the way we live



this part houseboat, part fan boat, looking contraption is actually an ice hovercraft school bus for a small rural community in wisconsin. the village in question happens to be an ice-locked island in lake superior. the 250 hearty souls who call la pointe, wisconsin home have to juggle the sometimes liquid water commute against the usually frozen crossing. their solution happens to be this ingenious hovercraft designed specifically for ice situations. maxing out at some 18 mph, the craft is hardly a powerhouse. what the vehicle lacks in power it makes up for in utility. what fascinates me though is the utter mobility of what amounts to a house (something i’ve been working with in my own thesis). these icecrafts make me think about archigram’s plug-in city. i can’t help but wonder why these little red guys haven’t populated the surrounding waters as motor homes of the north, providing access and mobility to thousands who would otherwise be stuck inside.

25 February 2008 - Posted by | architecture, modern, society, technology


  1. hi geoff,

    ive been looking through some of your posts and am very interested by your blog. i am also working on a project concerning architectural flexibility. the sketches you did of flexible “types” was very cool. one of the issues that i am struggling with is how to make something flexible or universal but also very specific and tailored. i do believe there is a way to do this and am working on it. best wishes in your project, gabriel from carnegie-mellon in pittsburgh.

    Comment by gabriel | 26 February 2008 | Reply

  2. gabriel, thanks for the note. i’m glad you enjoy what you’ve seen and that i could in anyway have been a help to you and your work. keep stopping by, i will be posting some more thesis related material in a few days here. in regards to your comment, i think you’ve hit on one of the crucial questions in the pursuit of flexible architecture. striking the balance between a universal type of flexibility and a specific use group/function is a tricky slope. how does one make something universal yet at the same time specific enough to succeed? in this way i think mies’ crown hall is a wonderful example. the space has been crafted as a “single room school house” with only the indication of separated spaces by half heights partitions. at the same time the building has been used successfully for multiple music and art performances as well as gallery space, galas, and benefits. if the college of architecture was to vacate the building, it could easily be used for any number of functions. for my money mies hit the balance you talk about.

    Comment by Geoff | 27 February 2008 | Reply

  3. When the Saint Lawrence Seaway macro-project was completed in 1959, it opened a “Fourth Coast” for the USA. (Its East, Gulf and West Coasts were provided by Nature.) Excavation of a Canal connecting the Gulf of California, through Mexico, to the USA would permit ocean seawater flooding of the below-sea level Salton Sea, a briny, contaminated and smelly endorheic lake that is fast disappearing after its unnatural creation by man-made flash flooding in 1905-07. This chapter will fathom some mysteries of the Salton Sea, including some speculative informed comments that might seem like science-fiction or science faux. However, the author takes the discussion tack that a practical rendition of the possible future geographical facts for this inhabited and cultivated desert region of southern California and northern Mexico, namely “Alternative Zero”, is more real-world than Peter D. Ward’s The Flooded Earth: Our Future in a World Without Ice Caps (2010). Seawater can be a beneficent liquid, sometimes tranquil, soft and tractable. And, sometimes, it causes peril for humans, as well as economic losses. Not insignificantly, the San Andreas fault—the most well-known plate tectonic boundary in the world—parallels the easternmost edge of the existing Salton Sea; the bi-national seawater Canal and Megaport constructors, influenced by Walt Disney’s “Imagineering” urban planning concepts, must make certain macro-project design allowances recognizing that geophysical reality. For Mexico, international commercial trade and tourism are the only industries that allow a net flow of wealth from richer to poorer nations. “Alternative Zero” has the potential to alter the climate of the Southwest as well as northern Mexico for the better.

    Comment by Natalie S. Dalton | 18 July 2013 | Reply

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