the way we live

photo friday: constructivism

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here’s a picture i took at a job site in suburban chicagoland about two years ago.  what struck me about the scene was how honest the conversation seemed to be.   though one the best parts may be the maersk sealand shipping container in the background.

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30 November 2007 Posted by | architecture, photo, society | Leave a comment

google renewables

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yesterday abc news was reporting that everyone’s favorite search giant, google, is venturing into the utility business.  with a goal of making renewable energy as cheap as coal, google announced they plan in invest hundreds of millions of dollars in research, design, engineering, and implementation of three different renewable systems: solar thermal, geothermal, and high-altitude wind.  google’s rationale for the move is two-fold: first, google’s servers use an incredible amount of energy themselves and investing in renewable resources to meet these power demands makes good business sense.  second, according to google, they recognize the reality of the seriousness of climate change and they feel that they have both the brain power and the money to change the way we live.  regardless of their motivations, a company like this investing heavily in renewable energy research and development is extremely commendable.  if google can, in fact, manage to develop technology that reduce the cost of renewable energy into the range of coal it would be a huge positive for the world around us.

28 November 2007 Posted by | green, society, technology, urban planning | 2 Comments

lab zero

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slowly stumbling out of my turkey coma today still stiff from friday’s ninth annual turkey bowl i found a post over on bldgblog, one of my favorite blogs, on a topic near and dear to me: flexible architecture.  as i’ve been discussing recently, notions of flexible architecture are at the heart of my thesis project and yesterday’s bldgblog post talks about the ubiquitous shipping container architecture that seems to be popping up everywhere, specifically a fascinating design firm and proposals from lab zero.  mr. manaugh appropriately discusses the current critique with such projects and i think he hits the nail on the head with his assessment that people view these proposals in light of two factors: comfort and universality.  but mr. manaugh refutes this analysis, as would i, saying:

“what i think is, actually, the point of reusing shipping containers as architecture is: 1) when you can, you should reuse existing materials for somewhat obvious environmental reasons, and 2) the spatial, logical, and combinatorial systems that cargo containers imply are simply awesome.”

i couldn’t agree more, it is actually about prefabricated reuse of materials and the spatial synthesis of the way we live.  if you have a few minutes i would head over to bldgblog and read the full post including the wonderful projects by lab zero highlighted throughout (partially pictured above).

25 November 2007 Posted by | architecture, prefab, society, thesis | Leave a comment

design and climate change

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i found thomas matthews book, “ten ways design can fight climate change” over at mocoloco yesterday.  now to most of us there is nothing earth shattering in those pages and much of it is very basic.  nonetheless, i think that’s where the book’s success lies.  the simple matter-of-fact way in which mr. matthews spells out ten logical, rational, and simple ways to use design to fight climate change is wonderfully commendable.  the book is brief, to the point, and punctuated with very small examples (often personal) for each topic.  the best part though, is that the treatise is available free via pdf, which, of course, just goes hand in hand with being sustainable.  i would recommend this quick read to everyone, even if you are well versed in the areas of environmentally responsible design it’s worth reading through to remind yourself.  you can view/download the book here.

22 November 2007 Posted by | architecture, green, society, technology | 2 Comments

gobble gobble!

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here’s wishing you a happy and warm thanksgiving!  if you’re traveling over the holiday stay safe.  i hope everyone enjoys great family and food.  happy thanksgiving!

22 November 2007 Posted by | society | Leave a comment

plumen project

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according to the plumen project’s website, “the plumen low energy light bulb prototype is a reaction to the lack of real diversity, imagination, and personality offered by the market today.” as a hugler spin-off the plumen design was inspired by contemporary “lightwriting.”

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using the tublar form of the bulb’s fluorescent cavity to their advantage, the designers spun up some surely fantastic forms.

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i find it fascinating to see the wide variety of forms the plumen folks came up with. after all, why does a light bulb have to be pure utility? can’t it too be activated by design? the folks working on the plumen project sure think so and i for one agree. these are fun (and at 2700 kelvin a nice warm cfl light), i certainly hope they find their way to the market.

21 November 2007 Posted by | green, materials, modern, products, society, technology | Leave a comment

switch mouse

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featured in the november issue of metropolis magazine, this unassuming mouse is more than meets the eye. designed by manuel saez of humanscale, the switch mouse is the model of ergonomic efficiency. some of the more notable design developments include the following: the scrolling wheel was replaced by a pad that allows the user to scroll around the page without the hurtful repetitive motion previously required. also, the mouse can expand in the middle so as to fit up to 95% of hand sizes. finally, included are removable “stabilizer blades” that keep the mouse titled at a 45 degree angle so as to keep your hand in a more natural position while using the mouse (seen below).

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additionally, the mouse was made to be ambidextrous, meaning either lefties or righties can use the mouse equally successfully. finally, the mouse was designed of recycled plastic and conforms to european standards for the amount of hazardous substances in electronics. my favorite part, however, is the elegant design of the mouse itself. mr. saez has done just the right amount of contouring and tailoring the lines of the mouse to update the outdated yet familiar design. the sleek and vibrant black and white coloring seems to add to the bold aesthetic of the design. available in january 2008, i can’t wait to see and use this in person.

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19 November 2007 Posted by | modern, products, technology | Leave a comment

the happiness of architects

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the latest issue of time magazine has a great piece called “america by the numbers.”  one of the more interesting sections is about americans’ happiness on the job, or rather, with their jobs.  according to time’s numbers architects are happier with their jobs more than almost every other profession with 53.5% of respondents saying they are, “very happy.”  only six other professions rank more highly than architecture does (with clergy at the top of the list).  in fact, only around ten professions posted “very happy” ratings over 50%.  i’d have to say this seem about right, despite the narcissistic, egotistical, masochistic approach we take to our profession i think it’s fair to say most love what they do (seems like a bit of a peripeteia, i know).  way to go architecture!

19 November 2007 Posted by | architecture, society | 1 Comment

imagekind

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i finally got around to setting up an imagekind account.  if you are unfamiliar with imagekind it is essentially a repository of photography that is available for either viewing of purchase.  you can view my account here; if you see anything you like you’ll be able to purchase museum quality high end archival prints in a variety of sizes for very reasonable prices.  they will even frame and mount it for you!  you will find the two examples posted here as well as a number of other photographs (architecturally focused on the way we live of course) go check it out, let me know what you think.

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18 November 2007 Posted by | architecture, photo, web 2.0 | 1 Comment

happy autumn

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how cool is this?  chris glass managed to take all of these leaves from the same tree and match them with their respective pantone colors.  how creative and fun?

17 November 2007 Posted by | green, materials | Leave a comment