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Gareth Pugh celebrates "outsider society" with Spring Summer 2019 collection

21 September, 2018 - 11:48

Gareth Pugh's Spring Summer 2019 celebrates "outsider society"

British fashion designer Gareth Pugh takes inspiration from society's outcasts with his latest collection, which he describes as "uncompromising, anarchic and fiercely confrontational". Read more

Popular Wood Species For Wood Flooring And What To Expect From Them

18 September, 2018 - 22:46

When you choose hardwood floors over other types of flooring materials, you want an all-in-one solution concerning beauty, durability, and value. The floor design shows the architectural style and creativity. Wooden floors work well in both domestic and professional settings and offer warmth and a luxurious appeal to a closed area.

Why Choose Hardwood Floors?

Aesthetic appeal: The best thing about hardwood floors is that on top of looking good, they also complement any design scheme and furniture style when the finishing is done right.

Durability: Due to the finishing and compact nature, hardwood floors decrease wear and tear, especially in areas with high amounts of traffic.

Stability: A one-inch thick piece of wood on the floor has the same insulating capability as 15 inches of concrete.

Ease of maintenance: Hardwood floors do not store mildew or absorb dust. Hence, they are easy to clean. Regarding refurbishing, all you have to do is sand the top layer which is less than a millimeter thick, and then apply a fresh coat of finish.

How to choose the best type of wood flooring material?

There are a lot of factors to consider before you settle on the type of wood you will use for the Wooden Floors. Some are purely for appearance purposes while others are mechanical considerations. Assuming all varieties are available and you can foot the cost, here are the other considerations that go into choosing wood for floors.

Solid Vs Engineered Wood Flooring

Solid wood flooring exists as a single piece of wood cut from one natural source of wood. Unlike engineered wood, solid plank floorings can be sanded and refinished multiple times.

Engineered wood floors are made using multiple but real pieces of wood or composite veneers from same or different species. They tend to be more stable if several species are combined. Mixed, engineered planks are more durable because the different grain textures are more resistant to expanding and contracting during fluctuations in humidity and temperature.

Design of the planks

We mentioned that you do not need a plank which is more than one to two inches thick to enhance stability unless your contractor advises you otherwise. There is also the issue of selecting the design and shape of the cut of each plank between squares and rectangles. The length of the planks should also be discussed with your designer. Some create the illusion of more space while some are more formal than others.

 

Wood Species

The species will determine greatly how the finished floors appear. The variation in growth affects the grain patterns which are the first thing you look at on a wooden floor.

 

The strength, hardness, and durability are also determined by the type of tree the wood originates. While some species like mahogany while strikingly exotic, are not as durable. You will have to choose between such trade-offs.

 

Colors

Some cuts have deeper colors than others in the layout of the grain, and some types of woods are wholesomely darker than others.

 

Textures

People usually use the terms grain and texture interchangeably when talking about wood, but they do not mean the same thing. Texture refers to the more delicate structure of the wood and not the annual rings. The texture will determine whether you choose wood that looks shiny and new or you go for a more antique look. The new and polished floors will need to be refurbished if you want to keep them that way or your contractor can install wood that’s new but is appealingly timeworn.

 

Hardness

Softer wood is more prone to visible scratches and dents, but at the same time, they are easily sanded and refinished. Harder wood is better in areas with high traffic, children and pets.

 

The Janka hardness test measures the force required to embed a 444-inch steel ball to half its diameter in wood. It is the best measures of the ability of a wood species to withstand wear and tear and also the ease of manipulation.

Unfinished and Factory Finished Wood Flooring

All wood floors require a protective sealant finish. With unfinished wood, your contractor will apply the finish on the job site. The advantage of this type of installment is that you get to choose a finish that blends in well with the rest of your home. You also notice and sand down imperfections. The downside is that you have to withstand the dust and chemical fumes that comes with the job.

 

With factory-finished wood flooring, you will spend a significantly less amount of time to finish the installation process. The floors are ready for use as soon as you are done and they also tend to be more durable in the long run.

 

Now that you have a guide to choosing hardwood floors, here are the most popular wood species of wood flooring and what to expect from each.

 

P.S. Remember the Janka hardness measure we mentioned in the guide to choosing the perfect wood flooring? We shall refer the score for each wood so you can easily rate its hardness.

 

1. Oak Wood Floors

Oak is the most abundant form of hardwood around the globe. There are two types of oak wood, Red Oak and White Oak. White Oak has a Janka measure of 1360 making it harder than Red Oak which measures at 1290.

 

That being said, such a rating is considered suitable for moderate traffic areas which makes Oak floors ideal for both office and home settings. The score also makes the wood very easy to work with so when you are refinishing it can even be a DIY project. The rating also ensures that the wood absorbs your choice of stain quite easily. The hues of the Oak tree also make the flooring take well to several colors of dye.

Both Red and White Oak flooring materials are readily available in both finished and unfinished forms.

 

2. Maple Wood Floors

There are a wide variety of maple tree species. This makes the flooring available in different grain patterns, and texture.

 

On average, maple wood has a Janka rating of between 700 and 1450. You will need to confirm the specific rank of the wood you purchase with your supplier. The difference in score means some of the wood types will be more susceptible to damage and expansion and contraction in extreme temperatures and humidity. Hence, some maple floors will be unsuitable for high traffic and exposed areas.

 

Maple floors are beautiful because of the swirling grain patterns. They are even more expensive than Oak flooring materials. However, if the grain creates an un-uniformed profile on the finished floor, consider going with a stained finish. The color of the raw wood is available in light hues of beige, tan or gray.

 

If you settle for the 1450 side rated maple floors, remember you might have a harder time getting the stain to be absorbed. Also, maple floors require to be treated with conditioner first before the stain is applied. To avoid disappointment, go for the pre-finished maple planks.

 

3. Hickory Wood Floors

Hickory floors are one of the more expensive floors to install. The reason behind the pricing is that the hickory flooring is both exquisite and durable.

With a Janka hardness rating of 1820, the floors can be difficult to work with and so contractors may charge you more for the installation. The wood can withstand great manipulation by both temperature and humidity without much damage to the integrity of the planks. This rating also means that once the floors are installed, the floor requires minimal maintenance work. Also, because the level is hard and resistant to dents, it can last even for generations. With Hickory floors, you will definitely be getting your money’s worth.

 

The grain structure appears in strong and multiple knots. Hence, if you want a cleaner look, consider going for longer and broader planks. Small and numerous planks will make your space look noisy. The raw wood colors, on a single board, range from beige to brown to red. Staining will also require conditioning first to soften the wood temporarily and to allow the color to take.

 

4. American Cherry Wood Floors

With a Janka hardness rating of 950, Cherrywood is considered one of the softer hardwood flooring materials. However, it is a pricy flooring to pick. The surface of the wood is susceptible to light and darkens on exposure. This characteristic adds an aesthetic appeal to its already captivating deep reddish brown color.

 

The wood is suitable for homes and areas with little traffic, and also children and pets are more likely to cause damage to the beautiful wood.

 

The wood is also susceptible to damage from temperature and humidity due to its porosity. However, the shrinkage and expansion usually don’t affect the wood’s dimensional stability.

 

Cherry hardwood floors are also captivating because of the unique grain patterns. Make sure you choose floor boards wide enough to showcase the natural grain beauty. Also, although you can select a stained finish, you can also opt for clear finishing to leave the natural grain patterns as a design.

Remember to let the whole floor shade and settle in natural light before placing an area rug, preferably in five to six months.

 

5. Bamboo Flooring

Although Bamboo is technically not hardwood, but a grass, it is used as an alternative to hardwood flooring. The hardness rating falls between 1200 and 1400 depending on the manufacturer. Engineered bamboo wood is manufactured from compressed strips to make wooden planks.

 

Concerning availability, most bamboo flooring products are shipped from China so you will have to confirm with your local supplier of its availability.

 

Since the type of flooring is manufactured and the hardness varies, it is advisable to buy pre-finished planks of bamboo. They are available in many colors, styles, and finishes, so be sure that you will find one that complements the style of your home.

 

While shopping for bamboo products, you will have to be more careful because the planks are not naturally occurring. Confirm the information regarding warranties and hardness ratings. Usually strand woven Bamboo is the most durable even harder than Red Oak.

6. Black Walnut Wood Floors.

Do not confuse the Black Walnut wood flooring from Brazilian Walnut wood, which is much harder, expensive and not as available. However, the Black Walnut is still as magnificent and not as cheap as oak either, and it is easy to see why. The color of the wood is available in shades from light to dark brown, and the pattern of the grain creates a beautiful crisp finish that blends well with any design style especially because the floor plank’s grain patterns vary only slightly giving a consistent look.

 

The hardness rating is 1010 which is pretty soft for a hardwood. However, this makes it easier to install and stain.

 

7. Pine Wood Flooring.

Pine is one of the most abundant forms of wood flooring which is attributed to their rapid growth.

 

You can choose the flooring between either Eastern White Pine or Southern Yellow Pine, although there’s not much of a difference besides the hardness. The average hardness rating of these types of pine wood falls between 690 and 870. However, there exists a harder variety, the Heart Pine. Derived from the center of the tree such wood flooring has a hardness rating of 1225.

 

One advantage of installing pine wood flooring is that the aesthetic beauty gets better with age. The grain pattern is in the form of knots and lines. Pine is also easy to stain so you can change the finish as often as you like.

8. Douglas Fir Wood Floors

Douglas Fir flooring materials are one of the least expensive to purchase and install. The low pricing can be attributed mainly to the soft nature of the wood. The hardness rating is only 660, the weakest in our list. The weak hardwood requires maintenance and is not suitable for high traffic areas, or even homes with kids and pets.

 

While it is a fragile wood for floors, it is most definitely exquisite to look at. The raw wood is available in various tones of gold, orange, red and brown and the color also darkens with age. The grain pattern and texture is relatively uniform so the aesthetic appeal will not be lost on you.

 

Before you make a final decision, it is important to consult with friends as well as experts on both aesthetic, practical and mechanical considerations. Remember this is a permanent fixture in your home and so whatever you go with should complement your style and also feel right to you. All in all, there goes a lot of decision making while choosing flooring. We hope this guide makes the work more manageable for you.

How to Make an Aquarium Complement Your Space?

18 September, 2018 - 22:25

If you want to put an aquarium in your living space, you need to consider a few things to pull the look successfully.

Following, we are sharing a guide that will help you make an impression with your aquarium.

Where You Want to put it?

The first thing you need it finding the room where you will install the aquarium. Choose a room where you will get the most use or calming effect. Following we are sharing some examples

  • Kitchen
  • Living Room
  • Guest Room
  • Bedroom

Consider your current décor. If your space already has a hectic design then doesn’t use bright colors in your aquarium. When choosing the room, make sure the fish is comfortable there was well. Mind the temperature because temperature fluctuation can harm the fish. So, don’t install it near the stove, radiator, air conditioner or windows. Consult a design expert if you can’t make your mind.

Make it Center of Attention

Despite where you choose to put it, make sure it fits well and becomes the center of attention. You want it to draw a lot of attention to make it vibrate, consider the size and shape. Make a statement by putting it in the center of your room. Use a large full cylinder shape aquarium which you can view from any angle.

Let it Accent the Space

Not all aquarium draws much attention. But they do add life to a dull space. There is the various way you can make your aquarium more attractive like being able to see through the other size.  You can use it as a divider between sections. This creates a unique separation while maintaining the open space vibe.

Shape

Who says you need the boring rectangle shape? There are several shapes and sizes to chose from. Just let your imagination guide you. Just make sure you size it according to the room. When creating a custom aquarium, you can choose from the following shapes

  • Radius Triangle
  • Rectangle
  • Triangle
  • Half Cylinder
  • Corner Bowfront
  • Full Cylinder
  • Bowfront
  • Flat Back
  • Pentagon

When you choose a shape, pick something that will accent the shape of your room. For instance, if you will put the aquarium in a corner, use a shape that will hug the corner like a pentagon or corner bowfront. Moreover, a full cylinder will be great for a room with rounded walls.

Glass or Fiber

Today, you have more options than ever. You even have several options for materials. You can choose between Glass and Fiberglass. Following, we will explain both their benefits to help you make a well-informed decision.

Glass is Strong

The glass is a great choice if you want something strong and scratch-free. It is ideal for hectic commercial settings. If you are afraid that people are going to bump into your aquarium and scratch it, glass is your choice. 

Fiberglass is Flexible

It is ideal for large, and custom shaped aquariums. It is malleable and shatterproof as compared to glass. Moreover, it offers a more unobstructed view. It makes an excellent sizable aquarium. There is just one downside; it scratches more frequently. If you can’t make your mind, refer to this acvarium guide.

Unequal Scenes: Aerials Photos Highlight Stark Lines Between Rich and Poor

18 September, 2018 - 19:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Photography & Video. ]

There are places in the world where a single road, wall or an even thinner, more invisible line separates rich from poor, and those are the kinds of intersections captured by photographer Johnny Miller.

A student of anthropology, Miller started out using images to illustrate wealth disparities in South Africa, but has since gone on to photograph in India, Tanzania and even the United States. He spends much of his time scouring for locations, then charts a path to fly his photography drone.

“The images that I find the most powerful are when the camera is looking straight down—what’s known as ‘nadir view,’ looking at the actual borders between rich and poor,” he says of Unequal Scenes.

“Sometimes this is a fence, sometimes a road, or wetlands—with small shacks or poor houses on one side, and larger houses or mansions on the other.” At times, it’s the quality of the architecture, or its relative state of disuse, that defines these boundaries.

“Whatever it is about the composition of those photographs, they are extremely powerful to people. I think the images make inequality relevant—people can see themselves reflected in the images, and it’s deeply unsettling.”

His goal is to raise awareness, in part by publishing and displaying his pictures around the world. “Through these conversations we can begin to understand the scope of the problem, and through that understanding, we can develop solutions.”

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[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Photography & Video. ]

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7 Short Films About Architecture That You Won't Find on Netflix

14 September, 2018 - 03:00

If a work can be photographed, drawn, or expressed in words, it can also be the star of a film. This can be seen in Arquitectura en Corto, a Spanish cycle of short films about innovation and trends in contemporary architecture.

"The eruption and widespread availability of social media/mobile videos coupled with the need to illustrate and present innovative projects drives the union between architecture and these mediums," explains Roca Gallery and Technal, the organizers behind Arquitectura en Corto.

Motivated by the next edition set to come out in October, we have chosen 7 short films from the cycle's first two editions that show everything from the transformation of Europe into a tourism hub to a house constructed in 80 days. 

Terramotourism | Left Hand Rotation

On November 1, 1755, an earthquake completely destroyed Lisbon. Today, the city trembles again under a surge of tourism that has brought the city to cruising speed. Left Hand Rotation, the film's creator, is an artistic collective that develops projects that bring together intervention, investigation, and video handling.

How to Build a House in 80 Days | Un día en la nieve

The film shows the journey of b home, a house designed by Sergio Baragaño, built in Madrid and transported via highway to its final destination, all in less than 4 months, with no delays or changes in budget.

Landskating | scob

An old skate park, a forgotten garden beneath a bridge, and the reconstruction of a skate park in a working-class neighborhood are the bones that form this documentary, Landskating. The film's narration draws parallels between the construction process for three new public spaces in Barcelona and how outlying areas fit into the overall urban landscape with regards to place, memory, people, and daily hustle. 

My house arrives flying | Marcos Canas

New penthouses swing in on heavy duty cranes and find their place atop antique buildings. Even more impressive, the structures are practically ready-built straight from a factory. Joan Artés, founding architect of Casa por el Tejado, revolutionizes the urban landscape of Barcelona with a formula that brings together rooftop residents, their new neighbors, and the city itself. 

House 712 | Adrià Goula

House 712 is about a process based on reducing clients' demands to reduce the final price of the house without neglecting the solar and geographic specifications of its users. During the process, the price is reduced to less than half the original cost. 

Battersea Power Station: Selling an Icon | Espectacle media

A brief history of London's Battersea Power Station, from its prominence as a site of industrial power to its abandonment years, and later to the ruinous planning for its replacement.

Beti Jai. La capilla Sixtina de la pelota | Objetivo Family

This short film captures the abandonment of one of Madrid's architectural gems: the Beti Jai, the wall of a Basque Pelota court abandoned since 1989.

Original descriptions by Arquitectuira en Corto.

The Invasion of La Muralla Roja, Captured by Anthony Saroufim

12 September, 2018 - 10:00
© Anthony Saroufim © Anthony Saroufim

Few residential projects in recent years have attracted as much attention as Ricardo Bofill's Muralla Roja. Completed in 1968, the Mediterranean design has benefited from trends of millennial culture, having served as a backdrop for several photographic essays and even music videos.

With worldwide notoriety, it isn't surprising that residents of the famous pink estate have sought to bar access from the already fortified wall. This, however, was not enough to prevent the Lebanese photographer and architect Anthony Saroufim from venturing through the labyrinthine of corridors and staircases of the Bofill building.

© Anthony Saroufim © Anthony Saroufim

Solely accompanied by his analog camera loaded with Kodak 400 Color Plus film, Saroufim invaded the wall:

© Anthony Saroufim © Anthony Saroufim

"My heart raced as I jumped over the fence, unnoticed, with my camera in my hand. Sneaking into this labyrinth of staircases, I hid myself, looking around and firing quickly, almost instinctively, I felt like I was stealing moments." - Anthony Saroufim

© Anthony Saroufim © Anthony Saroufim

Photographic records carry traces of his course. Although the camera at hand does not offer the same compositional precision of a tripod, the photos, rich in texture, lack a sharpness that is strangely suited to the nature of the wall.

© Anthony Saroufim © Anthony Saroufim

Learn more about Anthony Saroufim's work on his website or Instagram.

V&A Dundee / Kengo Kuma and Associates

12 September, 2018 - 03:00
© Hufton+Crow © Hufton+Crow © Hufton+Crow © Hufton+Crow

Text description provided by the architects. Located along the waterfront in the city of Dundee in the northern part of Scotland, this museum is a branch of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

© Hufton+Crow © Hufton+Crow

In addition to exhibits of artwork in the V&A collection, contemporary Scottish art and product design from the area are on display, making it a facility that is expected to become a new cultural centre in Scotland.

© Hufton+Crow © Hufton+Crow Sections © KKAA Sections © KKAA © Hufton+Crow © Hufton+Crow

The site faces the River Tay, and the architecture proposes a new integrated way to achieve harmony with the environment. The façade has a variety of shadows and changes created with multiple horizontal layers of precast concrete as a way to express the beautiful cliffs of Scotland with architecture.

External Wall ©KKAA External Wall ©KKAA © Hufton+Crow © Hufton+Crow External Facade Parametric Design © KKAA External Facade Parametric Design © KKAA

A large horizontal “hole” was provided in the centre of the building. This “hole” represents an attempt to connect Union Street which runs through the centre of Dundee with the beautiful natural scenery of the River Tay. This feature was adopted in order to create a 21st century type cultural facility that is an integral part of the environment and community which replaces 20th century type art museums that were cut off from the environment.

© Hufton+Crow © Hufton+Crow

The foyer was designed as a large void that is covered with locally available wood that has a soft texture with the intention that it be used as a “Living Room” capable of revitalizing the community by providing a venue where various concerts and performances are held.

A Super Transformer - Elering Office Building / molumba

11 September, 2018 - 05:00
© Tõnu Tunnel © Tõnu Tunnel © Tõnu Tunnel © Tõnu Tunnel

Text description provided by the architects. Technically, Elering’s (national transmission system operator for electricity and natural gas) office building is a reconstruction, an extension. Although everything is new, the small remaining part of the former structural frame came to define the building’s location as well as its overall height and width. It is actually the old building extended by three times, a simple rectangle with two curious islands in the middle of the offices located along the perimeter. The former atrium has become a secluded inner courtyard balanced by the second enclosed and highly secured control centre in the middle part of the extension.

© Kalle Veesaar © Kalle Veesaar

Viewed from the street, the building is carefully hidden behind another house and a vigilantly protective fence. It has no connection with the urban fabric, instead it links to another infrastructure – the powerline network covering the entire country. This is the brain of the powerline structure monitoring and administrating the vitally important circulation.

Ground Floor Plan Ground Floor Plan First Floor Plan First Floor Plan Second Floor Plan Second Floor Plan

It is like a curious electrical substation with detached resemblance to the specimens seen on random street corners. Albeit a manned structure, it is basically a separate world, unapproachable and inward-looking, that seeks no spatial contact with its surroundings and needs no further justifications for its existence.

© Tõnu Tunnel © Tõnu Tunnel

The architecture is masked and it becomes a technological aside almost revoking itself. Thus, the main building’s aesthetics is marked by totality with a profoundly technical and stern exterior where the dominating elements include sparse verticals protruding in triangles that function as passive elements to protect from sunlight. And behind them, there is a black and monotonous concrete rectangle with a somewhat boring pattern of identical windows – the super transformer of Mustamäe modernist residential district.

© Tõnu Tunnel © Tõnu Tunnel

In stark contrast, the human scale is revealed in the interior where a recreational area extending over two floors comes to frame the inner courtyard decorated with shade plants. The wide steps connecting the floors create an air of openness and provide the space for undefined activities. There is wood, timber formwork concrete surfaces, pendant lamps made of recycled insulators as well as pipes and cables firmly padding the ceilings.

Longitudinal Section Longitudinal Section

The rigid totality of the exterior conceals also some semitones – the transparency of the ribbing varies by angle with the static state displaying unexpected vitality. The temporal dimension is enhanced by the planted climbers that will hopefully take over the building and gradually dip the flashy blue in green. In the north-west corner of the plot on the other side of the car park, there is a somewhat autonomous walking path. It seems that here the detachment and totality of the infrastructure occasionally intersect the human and natural elements, albeit with reservations, not seeking for dialogue or humbleness. 

© Kalle Veesaar © Kalle Veesaar

Flight to the Future: How Airport Design is Adapting to a New Age

10 September, 2018 - 19:55
[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

Would you ever go to an airport just to hang out? Chances are, unless you’re an avid people-watcher, the answer to that question is no. Modern airports aren’t typically pleasant places to be, and most of us associate them with lengthy lines, security pat-downs, cramped gates and possibly a harried sprint to a terminal that seems like it’s on another continent to catch a connecting flight.

But some experts in aviation and architecture say all that is about to be history as airports adapt to evolving technology. In fact, airports around the world are already incorporating features like automated baggage checks, free wifi that actually works, better wayfinding and even checking in with selfies – and there are more advancements and improvements on the way.

Airports as Attractions

In Singapore, people really do go to the Changi Airport for a good time, even when they’re not traveling. While airports are usually transient spaces, whisking you through them on the way to somewhere else, Changi is a destination in its own right with a giant slide, kinetic rain sculptures, a butterfly garden, a sunflower garden, free massages, a huge swimming pool and some of the island nation’s best shopping. In early 2019, its new “Jewel” addition will open, offering a lush five-story terraced garden, a 40-meter-tall waterfall, a sculpture made of four gigantic slides and other attractions dreamed up by architect Moshe Safdie as a “magical garden.”

Changi may be an extreme example – it was named best airport in the world six years in a row by Skytrax, after all – but other airports are taking a similar approach as their operators take cues from the hospitality industry and shift toward more customer-friendly features and designs. The Seoul Incheon airport in South Korea has its own indoor skating rink, you can catch a movie at the Hong Kong airport’s IMAX movie theater, and the San Francisco airport has a yoga room. In the near future, many airports in larger cities will likely expand these kinds of amenities as they attempt to rebrand as community hubs.

Biometric Boarding Biometric Check-Ins – Image via Airport Parking and Hotels APH

Ready or not, here come biometric identity verification systems that will make the process of checking in and going through security a lot smoother, albeit in a way that stokes privacy concerns among some travelers. You might not have to go through a security line at all, as airports integrate technology that constantly scans you and your bags as you walk through the complex. Theoretically, that means airports will be more secure from the moment you walk onto the property.

Heathrow Airport in London is already testing biometric identification gates that use facial recognition to match flyers to their passports, immigration photos or visas, and British Airways has expanded the use of these gates to airports in New York, Miami and Orlando. The airline claims this process allows them to board twice the customers in the same amount of time as traditional methods. Delta has already integrated facial recognition into some of its bag drop stations, Dubai is using the technology at security checkpoints by passing flyers through face-scanning tunnels and JetBlue offers a biometric ID process in which customers step up to a camera and take a photo to board.

All of this means airports could be able to devote a lot less square footage to queues, opening that space to alternate uses – like making the rest of the facility more comfortable.

User-Centric Designs

Just like customers at any other business, air travelers want speed, efficiency, cleanliness, pleasant ambiance and great service, and that includes the choice to either use self-service kiosks or interact with an attentive and friendly customer service agent if they need more help.

Some airport executives stress a desire to treat passengers more like “guests,” regardless of the class of their ticket or their frequent flyer status. That may mean doing away with grand lobbies full of individual airline check-in counters and all of their snaking lines in favor of a more open system of kiosks and employees scattered around, approaching people who seem like they could use some assistance. Travelers already prefer self-check methods to interacting with agents before they fly. Some airports are even experimenting with “virtual” boarding agents that are just holograms.

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport via UN Studio Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport via UN Studio

As lobbies shrink, airports could expand their small, uncomfortable gates – where passengers spend the majority of their time – or shift their layouts altogether to make navigating these often massive facilities a lot easier. That might mean pod-like mass transit systems instead of trains to get you straight to your gate a lot faster. Dubai’s redesign will involve a format that eliminates the need to ever walk more than 400 meters (about 1300 feet) to catch a connecting flight. And while it wasn’t selected for the final design, UNStudio’s proposal for the Taiwan Taoyuan airport teases a highly efficient terminal design with a small footprint for the shortest possible walking distances.

Other high-traffic airports in cities like Los Angeles and Istanbul are currently undergoing renovations that prioritize efficiency in similar ways, and in the future, we might get electronic beacons or personalized wayfinding sent to our phones and other devices so we can navigate in a hurry.

Seamless Integration with Future Tech

How will airports adapt to a near future full of driverless electric cars, fleets of electric aircraft, increasingly car-free cities and other changes to how we travel on a daily basis? We may see airport parking garages looking more like ghost towns or devoted largely to electric car sharing services as people drive their own vehicles less often, and those garages could potentially be converted to additional terminals.

Drop-off and pickup areas are likely to expand to accommodate all the passengers using Uber, Lyft and similar services. The new Oslo Airport City (OAC) is being designed in anticipation of all these changes, including offering unprecedented access to public transport nodes, a must as the city removes cars from its city center.

Form and Function Fused The Changi Airport Butterfly Garden in Singapore via Wikimedia Commons

One thing airports could do with all that newly available space is pay a little more attention to aesthetics without sacrificing functionality. New airports in major cities (with the budgets to match) will likely get even more complex in their designs while incorporating passenger-friendly features like natural light and plenty of air-filtering vegetation.

Gates may be larger and more comfortable, ceilings higher, the ambiance more pleasant. We could see more parks, some of them even inhabited by birds or other wildlife, like at Singapore’s Changi. In Bangkok, a new terminal designed by DBALP will focus on offering a forest-like environment full of lush greenery and even a cascading waterfall.

Zagreb Airport via Kincl + Neidhardt Beijing Airport New Terminal Zaha Hadid Beijing Airport New Terminal Zaha Hadid

Rather than the warehouse-like boxes they’ve been in the past, airports of the future could be showcases of modern architecture, perhaps celebrating the talent of local firms – as is the case at Croatia’s Zagreb Airport, which chose native firms Kincl + Neidhardt + Institute IGH – or becoming living works of art by world-class talent like Zaha Hadid Architects. The latter firm’s new international terminal at the Beijing airport will be the largest in the world once complete, and even imagery captured of the structure halfway through the building process is stunning. The airport is expected to open in 2019.

Above all, airports of the future will probably have to be as flexible as they can be to continue adapting to a constantly changing world.

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[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

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Ephemeral Figures Loom Large in Biodegradable Land Art by Saype

7 September, 2018 - 19:00
[ By SA Rogers in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

Most graffiti artists never get the chance to paint a human figure measuring a staggering 100,000 square feet, but most of them aren’t working directly on massive mountainsides, either. Swiss artist Guillame Legros, better known as Saype, creates temporary scenes in the grass using a special biodegradable paint he developed himself after a year of experimentation. A paint gun helps him spay large quantities of pigment at a time onto grass cut extra short to make each work last as long as it can.

The rate of grass growth and the weather determine whether each ‘fresco,’ as Sayre calls them, lasts just a couple weeks or perhaps just over a month. The 2016 piece ‘Un Grand Homme,’ depicting a man in lederhosen lounging on an Alpine cliff in Leysin, Switzerland, broke world records for its size, while the 2018 piece ‘Present by Future’ created for the Eurockéennes Festival in Belfort, France is his most complex work yet.

“Fascinated by the philosophy and the questions which we could call ‘existential,’ his painting explores, most of the time, problems around the human being,” reads his bio. “His work is for him a way to share his vision of the world and invites us to wonder about our deep nature, our spirit, our place on earth and in the society.”

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Out-of-Place Artifacts: The Perpetual Puzzle of Reverse-Engineering Mysterious Objects

5 September, 2018 - 19:00
[ By SA Rogers in Culture & History & Travel. ]

It can be hard to resist the allure of a mysterious object found in a context that doesn’t seem to make rational sense, suggesting that it’s proof of time travelers, lost civilizations or alien visitors. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or a cryptozoologist to marvel at a bizarre computer-like device that dates back to Ancient Greece, or a 2,000-year-old battery found outside Baghdad in the 1930s.

So-called “Out of Place Artifacts,” also known as OOPArts, are often said to “baffle scientists,” and conspiracy theorists suggest that scientific efforts to identify their origin and purpose willfully ignore potentially controversial explanations outside the mainstream. After all, it’s true enough that science is constantly evolving, and we still don’t have the answers to many of life’s mysteries.

But imagine how everyday objects from our own times might be misinterpreted thousands of years from now if information about how they’re used doesn’t survive. A lot of artifacts become “out of place” because their original context might have provided important clues, but the object was moved and that context is lost.

When we’re so far removed from the original circumstances in which a historical object was created, it’s easy to let all sorts of things cloud our conclusions about what those objects represent.

Wishful Thinking

How do you explain a sarcophagus lid that appears to show a spaceship, primitive sculptures that look like airplanes or cave drawings resembling astronauts in space suits? Some proponents of “ancient astronaut” or “ancient alien” theories posit that intelligent extraterrestrial beings visited Earth thousands of years ago and made contact with humans, potentially influencing their technology. These visitors might have even been misinterpreted as gods, the theories muse.

The supposed proof of these theories lies in drawings like the petroglyphs of Val Camonica, Italy, which depict figures with ‘helmets’ around their heads that could just as easily be ceremonial headdresses or have some other, more down-to-Earth explanation. Ancient astronaut proponents also cite artifacts like a Mesopotamian cylinder seal that sort of looks like a spaceship, since it’s just sort of hovering there – although the first use of linear perspective wasn’t seen in art until the late 14th century, so the position of objects on a field in an ancient composition doesn’t necessarily mean anything significant.

A 1968 best selling book by Erich von Däniken interprets imagery on the lid of a stone tomb belonging to K’inich Janaab Pakal I (Pacal the Great), a Mayan ruler who died in the year 683 CE, as a depiction of extraterrestrial influence on the ancient Maya.

“In the center of the frame is a man sitting, bending forward. He has a mask on his nose, he uses his two hands to manipulate some controls, and the hell of his left foot is on a kind of pedal with different adjustments. The rear portion is separated from him; he is sitting on a complicated chair, and outside of this whole frame, you see a little flame like exhaust.”

…Or, Pacal could be sitting on a pillar in front of a stylized temple – among many other plausible explanations. What all of this shows us is the extent to which wishful thinking can alter our interpretations. If we really want to see the helmets of astronauts, that’s what we’ll see.

Technology, or its Inspiration?

It’s obvious how the so-called Helicopter hieroglyphs found in Abydos, Egypt got their name. Those images really do look like modern aircraft, right? Then there’s the Saqqara Bird, a sculpture made of sycamore wood discovered during the 1898 excavation of the Pa-di-Imen tomb in Egypt, which dates back to about 200 BCE. Some people have suggested that it might be evidence that ancient Egyptians developed the first aircraft many thousands of years ago (possibly with the help of aliens.) The Quimbaya Artifacts, a collection of tiny golden figurines found in Colombia and dated to around 1000 CE, look a lot like flying objects, too.

When it comes to investigating OOPArts, the best tool might just be Occam’s Razor: the principle that the simplest explanation is the most likely to be correct.

The simple explanation for all of these objects is that we’ve taken a lot of inspiration for our airplanes, helicopters, spaceships and drones from nature, and abstracted birds look a lot like planes. Archaeologists say the Quimbaya Artifacts are just highly stylized birds, insects and amphibians. The function of the Saqqara Bird is unknown because very little documentation of the period survives, but no credible evidence of Egyptian aircraft has ever been found. And though they might be the most puzzling, the Abydos “helicopter” hieroglyphs aren’t what they seem at first glance: the original carved images have been altered over time due to the carved stone being re-used over the centuries, creating overlapping images.

Imperfect Measurements

The Klerksdorp spheres discovered by miners in South Africa seemed like they had to be man-made, owing to their supposedly perfect proportions, but they were estimated to be 2.8 billion years old. Does that mean they’re evidence of advanced pre-human civilizations on Earth – whether some other species from this planet or extraterrestrial – as suggested by Michael Cremo, author of Forbidden Archaeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race? Nope.

Though they certainly look hand-carved, these spheres are far from perfect, and most geologists agree that they were naturally formed as concretions formed in volcanic sediments or ash. The grooves were likely produced due to the varying permeability of the layered sediments in which the stones were formed.

It’s pretty easy to confuse natural formations for man-made creations given the complexity of nature and its ability to surprise us. Just look at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, the faces we’re constantly seeing in rocks and many other misleadingly sculptural features.

Less Complex Than They Seem?

When the aforementioned Baghdad Battery was discovered in modern Khujut Rabi, Iraq, near the ancient metropolis of Ctesiphon (150-650 CE), it was really just three distinct objects: a fired ceramic container, an iron rod and a bit of rolled sheet copper. Wilhelm König, an assistant at the National Museum of Iraq at the time, thought it looked like a primitive galvanic cell, and theorized that it was used for electroplating gold onto silver objects.

About a decade later, a man named Willard Gray made a reproduction of the objects, put them together and filled the vessel with grape juice to prove its conductive properties. But if it is a battery, it’s not a particularly effective one, and it’s just as likely that the objects weren’t even meant to fit together in this way.

Though its origin and purpose are still unclear, most contemporary archaeologists don’t believe it’s a battery at all, noting that the vessel and rod might have just protected papyrus scrolls. Perhaps it’s helpful to remember that you can make all kinds of things that aren’t really batteries produce electricity, including potatoes.

Just Plain Fake

To the surprise of pretty much no one, a lot of supposed Out of Place Artifacts are just forgeries and hoaxes. When images of a clay object resembling a modern mobile phone emerged online in 2015 along with the explanation that it was discovered during a dig in Austria, eager theorists were quick to declare it obvious evidence of time travel. As it turns out, the “Babylonokia” is a sculpture by German artist Karl Weingartner.

But what about enduring mysteries like the Antikythera Mechanism, which is believed to be an ancient Greek analog computer used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses? The device, discovered among wreckage off the coast of the island of Antikythera, dates to sometime between 87 and 205 BCE and consists of a complex clockwork mechanism with at least 30 bronze gears. As far as we know, this is no hoax or misinterpretation. It’s certainly a lot more advanced than most of the surviving artifacts from that place and time, but makes use of contemporary Greek astronomy and mathematics.

Humans of Ancient Greece and roughly concurrent societies might not have had cars, air conditioning or wifi, but their technology was often more advanced than many of us imagine. All sorts of things could have been developed, used and then forgotten as civilizations rose and fell and so much of that all-important context disappeared over time.

Archaeology is a puzzle, and without all the pieces, we’re often just guessing. Which is why it’s important to note that scientific consensus can shift and change, too. Few conclusions are fully set in stone, so to speak, and we never know when we might receive new information that changes our perceptions.

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Greenery Engulfs WOHA's Oasia Hotel Downtown Singapore in New Photographs

4 September, 2018 - 10:00
© Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL © Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL

New photographs released by ceramics manufacturer AGROB-BUCHTAL show nature beginning to claim the Oasia Hotel Downtown in Singapore. WOHA Architects’ 30-story scheme was designed to be a “verdant tower of green” in the heart of the city’s financial district.

The tower’s red aluminum mesh cladding has begun to sprout a lush landscaping, consisting of 21 different species of creepers. The colorful flowers and green leaves provide food for birds and insects, while the reaction of the creepers to different light, wind, and shade conditions come together to form a natural mosaic.

The footage also showcases the building’s rooftop tropical bower and series of sky gardens including a swimming pool with sweeping views across Singapore.

Since its completion in 2016, the scheme has received numerous accolades, including being crowned the CTBUH Best Tall Building Worldwide in 2018. A gallery of the new photographs celebrating the biodiverse tower is laid out below.

© Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL © Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL © Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL © Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL © Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL © Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL © Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL © Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL © Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL © Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL © Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL © Infinitude via AGROB BUCHTAL

Images via: AGROB-BUCHTAL

Architecture and Criticism: By the People, for the People?

4 September, 2018 - 09:00
Frank Gehry flips off a reporter who challenged him of practicing "showy architecture. . Image© EFE Frank Gehry flips off a reporter who challenged him of practicing "showy architecture. . Image© EFE

This article was originally published on Common Edge as "Architectural Criticism that's Not Just for Architects."

In case you hadn’t noticed the world is going from paper to pixels. You’re reading this, here. Everything is changing, and that includes how we talk and think and write about architecture.

A recent essay showed me the impact of how the not-so-new media has changed our sense of what architectural criticism—really any criticism—is and what we expect from it. A few weeks ago, Kate Wagner, creator of the wildly popular blog “McMansion Hell” and contributor to Common Edge, wrote a piece for Vox.Com on Betsy DeVos’ new summer home in Park Township, Michigan. The internet exploded.

Her send up of the bloated home had clear allusions to her disdain not only for excess and conspicuous consumption, but also for DeVos herself and by extension for the entire Trump Administration. Rather than simply decrying the aesthetic funkiness of a rich person’s McMansion, Wagner’s article was full-throated cultural outrage that surfed the energy of the Resist Movement—and its reception was in full accord with the many and growing non-architectural pieces that call out the Trump train wreck.

Amid the thousands of gleeful tweets and “comments” that followed, was one by Paul Goldberger: “@mcmansionhell brilliantly takes down Betsy DeVos, showing once again that she is one of our sharpest as well as most entertaining architecture critics.”

Arguably the world’s most famous architecture critic, who made his bones in print, conferred upon Wagner his own identity of “architecture critic” (on Twitter, of course). Not just a smart, funny, personal blogger, she is using architectural analysis to describe our greater culture, and doing so in an immediate, relatable voice.

That’s why I had Wagner on my radio show, “Home Page” before her most recent internet explosion, and asked her why people loved her blog: “I think people enjoy the blog because it’s talking about architecture in a way that is not patronizing, which is frankly not common. That might be a bit of a diss, but I am referring to the architecture blogs.”

Courtesy of Flickr User Andrew Guyton. ImageMcMansions such as these are among the types of buildings discussed on McMansion Hell Courtesy of Flickr User Andrew Guyton. ImageMcMansions such as these are among the types of buildings discussed on McMansion Hell

Wagner’s voice is sharp, witty and among the brightest of this emergent internet-based architecture criticism. You don’t need to be a member of the AIA to receive hundreds of articles, images, and projects a day. Once there were half a dozen pre-eminent architecture print magazines, now the few left are struggling to stay alive on paper while scores of web presences make the scrolled review of images on a device the norm. This new world is in contrast to the longer paper screeds of the past, often filled with arcane and impenetrable critical writing, geared to the narrow field of architectural academics.

I am published regularly in ArchDaily; wrote for Archinect and HOUZZ before that, and any number of smaller venues. The instant response and mass love/hate or indifference (easily the worst of the three) of the Internet is quick and intense. The comments are unedited and often dazzling in either their brilliance or addled incoherence. This is, believe it or not, a clear virtue.

This recent torrent of expression highlighted how the Internet has transformed the way we exchange architectural thoughts and responses. Universal, instant, fully revisable, everything on the Internet is in real time and essentially free (a problem for another day’s discussion).

In clubbing the baby seal of obvious excess, Wagner mocks the gross in the DeVos house but shows how the overblown can also be grotesque because it reveals the venality of its builder. The reaction to her piece went beyond a critic revealing the negative truth about a building—it was a mass wave of likes, shares, comments, and retweets that flamed and trolled on everything Wagner addressed, not just the aesthetics of the home. It was architecture criticism that transcended architecture.

This wider perception of buildings goes beyond aesthetics, and it’s what explodes on the Internet. But it is not just Wagner; there is a wave of blogs and websites focusing on Brutalism as an architectural expression of cultural ideology. In these sites architecture evidences a worldview as much as the specific aesthetics of any building. Brutalist websites, such as #SOSBRUTALISM and “Fuck Yeah Brutalism” are as positive as “McMansion Hell” is negative. These blogs embrace the universal intentions and social vision that spawned Brutalism, and are almost nostalgic in their glowing regard for buildings that most civilians (i.e. non architects) believe failed miserably.

Courtesy of Flickr User Ádám Szedlák. ImageThe Alexandra Road Estate by architect Neave Brown; an example of London's brutalist architecture. Courtesy of Flickr User Ádám Szedlák. ImageThe Alexandra Road Estate by architect Neave Brown; an example of London's brutalist architecture.

This new era of internet criticism reminds me of Postmodernism, when books by Vincent Scully, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown and Tom Wolfe ripped the existing status quo with insight and wit. Postmodernism was crib-killed or committed suicide by its own absurdities, but its alt-architecture criticism was refreshing, provocative and expressed the 1960’s counterculture message of “Reject Authority.”

Some say the aesthetic product of Post Modernism was shallow at best. To me its reactionary impact was based in commentary. It burned bright for a couple of decades because of its place as part of the worldwide cultural revolution of the mid-century. I believe that upheaval will considered a tiny ripple when it’s compared to what emerging technology portends for our profession—and that includes criticism.

Maybe this new criticism is just in its awkward adolescence. The joy of instant, real time presentation of unlimited length, universal availability and immediate correction of error, is a fantastic way to communicate. But the ability to link to live sites, images, video, and news makes the indirect page-bound world of traditional journalism quaintly tactile.

These coming changes are not just about what is produced. Ultimately the methods of creation change what is what is created. Current culture is rejecting Gilbert & Sullivan eight-part harmony in favor of a cappella singing; reflecting the fact that the ability to read sheet music is vanishing from the creation of music. Music is made in several ways, but the ear to mouth of a cappella is defeating the mind-to-hand of making music off paper. 

Losing the beauty and circumspection of print architectural journalism will be a loss, a loss I feel with each missing newsstand. Fully formed arguments, paper-framed in a bound context, with targeted photos and other graphics, still exist, but like “drawing” it’s a dead-method-walking. Of course the fun and conversational tone of “McMansion Hell” may not the way that all future criticism will follow, but the few remaining print magazines will, finally, become beloved footnotes and the burgeoning digital formats of architectural journalism will change architectural criticism far beyond what we see now.

Perhaps the line between analysis and commentary is blurring. Perhaps architectural criticism, like journalism itself, is evolving into a place of dialogue and reaction rather than the attempts at intellectual analysis of the print era.

Four generations ago Marshall McLuhan famously said “The medium is the message.” It’s clear that the millions today engaged in seeing, reacting to and thinking about architecture in all the places like “McMansion Hell” were not part of Architectural Record’s audience 20 years ago.

And maybe that is a good thing.

Roundup: 5 Skyscrapers Redefining Supertall

3 September, 2018 - 10:00
Green Spine by UNStudio Green Spine by UNStudio

Two years ago over 100 supertall buildings had been constructed worldwide. Last year, 15 more supertall skyscrapers were built, each towering over 300 meters tall. These narrow towers are prevalent in high-density areas with limited land availability and demand for luxury residences. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat is the authority on official heights of tall buildings and determines which building receives the title of the Tallest Building in the World. To celebrate International Skyscraper Day, we're exploring a round up of skyscrapers that aim to redefine supertall construction.

Green Spine by UNStudio Green Spine by UNStudio

Green Spine by UNStudio and Cox Architecture

UNStudio and Cox Architecture have officially been announced as the winners of Melbourne’s landmark Southbank Precinct overhaul. Selected from a range of high-profile offices, including BIG, OMA, and MAD, UNStudio's vision for the $2 billion project includes a pair of twisted towers called Green Spine that would become Australia's tallest building. As the largest single-phase project in the history of Victoria, Australia, the Green Spine is designed as a state-of-the-art, mixed-use environment centered around innovation in architecture and design.

The Lakhta Center by RMJM The Lakhta Center by RMJM

Lakhta Center by RMJM

The Lakhta Center, a 400,000-square-meter complex which includes Europe's tallest skyscraper, is approaching completion in St Petersburg. The centerpiece of the development, the 462-meter-tall Lakhta Center Tower, is not only the tallest building in Europe, but also the first supertall skyscraper in St Petersburg, the world's second-tallest twisting skyscraper after the Shanghai Tower, and the world's northernmost skyscraper.

Moscow Supertall by Sergey Skuratov Architects Moscow Supertall by Sergey Skuratov Architects

Moscow Supertall by Sergey Skuratov Architects

Moscow officials have approved a new supertall building that will become the city's tallest skyscraper. Rising 404 meters (1,325 feet) in height as part of the Moscow City commercial district, the tower is designed by Sergey Skuratov Architects. The unnamed structure will be a multifunctional residential complex with 109 floors. The new skyscraper will break Moscow's current tall building record set by Federation Tower at 373-meter-tall (1,226 feet) tall. Construction is scheduled to begin next year.

W350 Project by Sumitomo Forestry Co. and Nikken Sekkei W350 Project by Sumitomo Forestry Co. and Nikken Sekkei

W350 Project by Sumitomo Forestry Co. and Nikken Sekkei

Timber tower construction is the current obsession of architects, with new projects claiming to be the world’s next tallest popping up all over the globe. But this latest proposal from Japanese company Sumitomo Forestry Co. and architects Nikken Sekkei would blow everything else out of the water, as they have announced plans for the world’s first supertall wood structured skyscraper in Tokyo. At 1,148 feet tall, the proposal outpaces similar timber-structured highrise proposals including Perkins + Will’s River Beech Tower and PLP Architecture’s Oakwood Tower.

Nile Tower by Zaha Hadid Nile Tower by Zaha Hadid

Nile Tower by Zaha Hadid Architects

After more than a decade, Egypt has returned to its plan to construct Africa's tallest building. Sited on the Nile River in central Cairo, the skyscraper was designed by the late Zaha Hadid in 2007. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the government are working with the project developers, Living in Interiors, to create the twisting "Nile Tower" with a design that will rise 70 stories. Overlooking views of Cairo, the Nile and the pyramids, the project hopes to symbolize Egypt's growth and the development of the country.

Virtual Fixer Uppers: Buy, Renovate & Sell Homes in “House Flipper” Game

30 August, 2018 - 19:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Gaming & Computing & Technology. ]

For those who enjoy fixing and flipping homes, this video game could be a dream come true, virtually speaking, letting you purchase rundown shacks and turn them into market-ready models.

Players in House Flipper can buy dwellings that look ready for the scrap heap, then “hammer, drill, nail down, screw, and do what needs to be done to mount, fix or clean up stuff,” all without lifting more than a few fingers.

Those interested in working out some frustration will be happy to know that demolishing walls and fixtures is part of the gameplay, too.

It hews close to reality in that the game goal is the same as real life: profit. Instead of a final boss, there is the final sale, though that’s optional for people who want more flexibility and less economics. And, of course, the fun doesn’t stop there: flip one house and you can start on the next.

If this seems like a strange game concept, consider how popular shows like Behind the Design, Flip or Flop, First Time Flippers, Rehab Addict and the like already are — sure, some watch them for tips, but others for entertainment. And if farm simulators can be a hit, why not House Flipper?

At the same time, it’s a bit dystopian, arguably, targeting a younger generation without the same financial resources as the last one to buy (let alone sell) their own homes. For $20 on Steam, it sure is a cheaper hobby either way, and a bit less risky, too.

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[ By WebUrbanist in Gaming & Computing & Technology. ]

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Distorted Shapes Made of Tape: Mesmerizing Installations by Darel Carey

29 August, 2018 - 19:08
[ By SA Rogers in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

Step into one of Darel Carey’s art installations and you’ll quickly lose your sense of the room’s actual dimensions, your confused eyes tripping over illusions of ridges and voids that aren’t really there. Using nothing but roll after roll of black electrical tape, Carey transforms ordinary spaces into disorienting, graphic landscapes that seem to shift as you look at them.

Sure, there are easier ways to achieve similar effects – plastering the walls with printed wallpaper, for example, or projecting the images. But Carey prefers the meditative process of hand-taping his designs, and he says the spaces often take shape of their own accord.

Carey calls his method ‘dimensionalizing,’ and notes that it was originally meant to be highly temporary. He’d step in, work intuitively within the space and record himself creating the installation. The resulting images and time-lapse videos were sometimes the only evidence these alternate reality rooms ever existed, since they’d sometimes be taken down within mere hours. Now, he’s working toward installations that last a little longer, like his room at the Museum of Selfies in Los Angeles.

The time lapse videos are fascinating in their own right as Carey “bends space” simply by changing the direction of the tape as well as altering its width to produce the illusion of topography on smooth, flat surfaces.

The work may look mathematical in nature, but Carey tells New Element Art that his work is “mostly organic and freestyle. And the only mathematics involved is naturally applied.”

“I like it when people say they lose their orientation in the space. Because it lets me know that my dimensional lines are doing their job and giving the mind and eye something to ponder.

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Are Wood Doors Better Than Fiberglass Doors?

28 August, 2018 - 19:43

If you are stuck between choosing a wooden door or a fiberglass door to install in your home office, you are not alone. At first glance, they seem so similar that you may be mistaken in believing that they are equivalent, but they have some distinct differences which you need to be aware of before you make your decision. There are pros and cons to both, and both short-term and long-term financial aspects to consider.

The Pros of Wooden vs Fiberglass Doors

Wooden doors are associated with high end decor, and are the first choice in terms of quality and aesthetic design. They add a timeless style to your property which fiberglass doors cannot match. They can also be intricately carved and designed with an artistic finish, and can be repaired fairly easily if scratched or tarnished. They are also quite straightforward and practical in their installation, and can be fitted and maintained by almost anyone with the correct tools and materials. Like fiberglass doors, you can sand, varnish or paint wooden doors to the exact texture and finish you desire.

Fiberglass doors also have their own advantages, the main ones being superior durability and weather-resistance. Fiberglass doors have been known to outlast wooden doors, going for many years without becoming rotten, misshapen, or dilapidated, and require minimal maintenance, compared to wooden doors.

Fiberglass is very stain- and scratch-resistant, and can provide as much as 5 times more energy-efficiency than wood. Additionally, you can stain and finish fiberglass doors to give them a wooden grain appearance to simulate a wooden architectural style.

The Cons of Fiberglass vs Wooden Doors

On appearance alone, you may not immediately be able to discern a visible difference, but on closer inspection you can see that wooden doors will deteriorate in ways that fiberglass doors do not. Unlike fiberglass wooden doors become faded over time and may even begin to peel. Wooden doors are less energy-efficient, and require regular maintenance in order to remain durable and effective. Exterior wooden doors also have a tendency to experience damage from moisture, as they are more exposed to the elements, which causes them to swell and warp. Furthermore, wooden doors carry risk of insect infestation, which fiberglass doors do not.

Fiberglass doors also have their disadvantages, the main one being their overall aesthetic; there’s just no substitute for an authentic vintage style wooden piece, no matter how well the fiberglass variant has been designed. Furthermore, installation and repair or fiberglass is specialized and costly, requiring special tools and professional skills.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to cost factors, there are a few things to consider. High quality fiberglass doors are more modern and tend to be pricier, however they will cost less over the years in terms of maintenance and energy-efficiency. Wooden doors may be a smaller up-front investment, but it is vital that you budget for regular maintenance in order to keep them at their optimal level of visual appeal and functionality. On wooden doors, basic maintenance and repairs can be carried out at home with minimal training or experience.

About the contributor

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Concrete Skies: Reclaiming the Urban Wilderness of Disused Underpasses

27 August, 2018 - 20:01
[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

As cities grow and change, complex networks of elevated concrete highways and railways sprout up like vines, twist around each other and radically transform the space beneath them. Formerly vibrant urban districts are shrouded in darkness, and the potential to use that space is often wasted as officials fence it off or incorporate hostile features into the infrastructure to ward off loiterers and people lacking housing. Over time, some of those elevated roads might become obsolete, making the whole area feel like an urban wasteland.

But the need to make use of every available square foot of land is intensifying – and city planners working on the viaducts and overpasses of the future should probably take note of how that land is currently being reclaimed and rehabilitated to enhance its value to surrounding communities.

Underground at Ink Block Park, Boston via Mass DOT The ice skating trail at Toronto’s Beltway, via Urban Toronto

After the success of the High Line in New York City, an elevated linear park running along a former New York Central Railroad spur, many cities have begun transforming their own underpasses, viaducts, abandoned highway sections and even the tops of tunnels into verdant public spaces.

Atlanta’s BeltLine, Detroit’s Dequindre Cut and Washington D.C.’s planned 11th Street Bridge Park all demonstrate the how valuable the land can be to residents living nearby once it’s reactivated. These underpass parks can be surprisingly vibrant, like the 8-acre Underground at Ink Block park in Boston, Houston’s Sabine Promenade (top) or Toronto’s Bentway, which includes a 720-foot ice skate trail. Skate parks, like Portland’s Burnside ramps, are a natural fit.

Ballroom Luminoso by JB Public Art, via Public Art San Antonio and the Department for Culture and Creative Development Phoenix Park in Glasgow via Innovation Digital UK Folly for a Flyover by Assemble Studio

Art installations brighten up cavernous underpass spaces, whether with colorful lights like San Antonio’s temporary Ballroom Luminoso installation by JB Public Art or with oversized sculptural elements like the flowers of Glasgow’s Phoenix Park. Some underpass spaces draw regular crowds as venues for movies or events, like Folly for a Flyover by Assemble in Hackney Wick, England.

Koganecho Center Koganecho Center

In Yokohama, Japan, a notorious red light district flourished beneath an overpass for decades before authorities wiped out it, turning a bustling (if crime-ridden) area into a ghost town virtually overnight. A recent redevelopment project called the Koganecho Centre tucks a complex of new buildings into this underutilized space to make it functional for residents in a new way, adding an art gallery, a cafe, a meeting space, an artist’s atelier and an open-air piazza to a 328-foot stretch under the concrete arches.

Spittelau Housing Project by Zaha Hadid Architects Archway Studios by Undercurrent Architects Koops Mill by Mark Fairhurst Architects

Housing can take shape around and beneath viaducts, too. In 2005, Zaha Hadid completed the Spittelau Viaducts Housing Project as part of a waterside revitalization scheme in Vienna, Austria. A three-part structure of apartments, offices and artist studios winds through, around and beneath a disused railway viaduct, playfully interacting with it while creating a contrast between old and new. Even tiny slivers of land beside viaducts can avoid feeling dwarfed, darkened and constrained by the infrastructure when cleverly designed, like the narrow Archway Studios live-work space by Undercurrent Architects or the Koops Mill mixed-use development occupying a former brownfield (both in London.)

Unfortunately, even when they become magnets for pedestrians, cyclists, families and tourists, these urban revitalization projects aren’t all sunshine and rainbow bike racks. Some of them perpetuate cycles of displacement, pushing low-income and other marginalized populations further away from amenities instead of serving them. Urban infrastructure projects are often built in poorer areas of town in the first place.

Transforming empty space into parks and venues might improve them, but it might attract deeper-pocketed buyers to the area, too. The High Line, for example, is currently struggling to make up for the imbalances it has created in once-affordable areas of Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Incentivizing affordable housing developments along with all the other elements of an underpass or viaduct makeover could help build equity into these projects from the beginning phases.

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[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

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Cone Founded: The Abandoned Yuengling Ice Creamery

26 August, 2018 - 19:00
[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

The Yuengling Ice Creamery not only helped the brewery survive Prohibition, it closed over a half-century after the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed.

D. G. Yuengling & Son bears the distinction of being the oldest operating beer brewery in the United States. The firm was established in 1829 by David Gottlieb Jungling, who had emigrated from Stuttgart, in the German state of Baden-Wurttemburg, just one year previously. It wasn’t always the best of times for the Pottsville, PA-based brewery, and the worst of times began just after the stroke of midnight on January 17th, 1920… the beginning of the 14-year-long Prohibition Era.

The family-owned firm was forced to employ a variety of strategies once the nation officially went “dry”. The most obvious move was to brew a range of 0.5% alcohol content “near beers”. The brewery had another trick up their sleeves, however, one which would far outlast both the dealcoholized brews and Prohibition itself.

The Yuenglings owned a small dairy, and, as they say, “from little acorns, mighty oak trees grow”. Yuengling’s Ice Cream Corporation was established, a dedicated creamery was built, and by the end of the Roaring Twenties two more facilities opened in the Pottsville area. One of them is the long-abandoned factory we’re featuring.

As the Great Depression closed in and with no end in sight for Prohibition, Yuengling’s ice cream operation expanded into the production and distribution of milk. This prompted (in 1930) a name change to the Yuengling Dairy Products Corporation.

Unlike so many other businesses, the Yuengling companies were actually thriving thanks to their dairy products (frozen and otherwise), near beers, and even a couple of branded dance halls in Philadelphia and New York City. Leave it to history to throw them another curve: on December 5th of 1933, the Eighteenth Amendment establishing Prohibition was repealed through the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment. That called for a celebratory drink… but what about the ice cream?

The fact is (or was), Yuengling’s ice cream had to be good, sell well, and make a profit – if not, the entire enterprise might have gone kaput. Thus, when the Yuengling brewery re-opened in 1933, the ice creameries didn’t miss a beat for, say, the next half century. And you thought beer and ice cream didn’t go together!

By the early Eighties, the Yuenglings faced a very different type of challenge: the family-owned and run businesses ran into age-related issues. The Yuengling younglings, if we may, weren’t up to maintaining and managing the ice cream operations. In addition, the Pottsville plants were showing their age and expensive upgrades loomed. It was time to fish or cut bait, and in 1985 management chose the latter option.

Well-regarded brands are hard to come by, and such was the case with Yuengling’s Ice Cream. In 2014, David Yuengling – cousin of the brewery’s current owner – revived the brand that now offers ten different flavors of Yuengling’s ice cream made at a new plant in nearby Orwigsburg. The featured Yuengling’s ice creamery, meanwhile, abandoned since 1985 and evocatively photographed by Joel Handwerk of Lithium Photo, is doomed to eventual demolition… and that’s a sher-bet.

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[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

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Bamboo Cultural Restaurant Platform / akasha+associates architecture

24 August, 2018 - 22:00
Courtesy of akasha+associates architecture Courtesy of akasha+associates architecture
  • Architects: akasha+associates architecture
  • Location: West Lake, Tây Hồ, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Lead Architect: akasa minh
  • Area: 500.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2017
  • Collaborators: Hien, Nam, Phat, Tho, Cung , Mai, Son,Thuc, Le
Courtesy of akasha+associates architecture Courtesy of akasha+associates architecture

Text description provided by the architects. Over  thousand years of history, Hanoi with an unique urban layout characterized by natural water became a navel of Vietnam with many layers of cultural and political systems. The rivers, lakes, ponds and other  water channels created hidden values of this high density national capital.

Courtesy of akasha+associates architecture Courtesy of akasha+associates architecture

A restaurant with temporary requirement is located beside a great water feature of Hanoi - the West lake, where is rounded by a chain of cultural heritages of dynasties. So, the building should be a meeting point of citizen with special atmosphere and accommodating restricted urban regulations of construction. In fact, the site includes particular trees, water dock, and existing small building need to be preserved and improved. 

3D Frame 3D Frame

The main concept is body architecture with inward sensitive sunlight and an wind power’s structure cause by the West lake geographical characters itself, and a flexible volume was considered to adapt on site. Bamboo was naturally chosen for realizing a concept and situation .The 5500 bamboos with 6 meters length were carried to the site from the forest distance 100kilometers to the west of Hanoi, 6 meters is maximum length for allowing a truck gets into the city as well.

Courtesy of akasha+associates architecture Courtesy of akasha+associates architecture

Skylight leads a play of special bamboo composition with kinetic system and simple structure. Generally, building body is constructed with an aspiration from traditional daily bamboo object - fishing trap.
Structural solution is unique by using knot art for wind pressured duration and new experience of bamboo details.

Courtesy of akasha+associates architecture Courtesy of akasha+associates architecture

Inside of restaurant was splendored by particular bamboo structure and skylight with filtered hinged canvas. Around 4.pm to 6.pm a moveable light plays on the upward surface roof, resulting from reflected light of the water dock at the west side of project. Building serves as a restaurant and encourages a platform for cultural activities, enriches a chain of historical heritages in contemporary life of Hanoi's west lake.

Courtesy of akasha+associates architecture Courtesy of akasha+associates architecture