the way we live

mile high v2.0

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coming just days on the heels of the hyder consulting announcement that they are working on a mile high skyscrapper comes the announcement that populararchitecture is also working on a mile high tower of their own. if built, the populararchitecture tower would be located in london. unlike the hyder structure, populararchitecture has released renderings that show the immense scale of such a building, a scale that as i accurately hypothesized before, is completely out of touch with everything human. according to inhabitat, the tower would rise some 500 stories and, “would contain schools and hospitals to shops and pubs, and everything else under the sun.”

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additionally, this structure is to be environmentally friendly, though any skeptic would be quick to point out the sheer absurd abundance of materials, resources, and energy required to build and maintain such a structure. though it is true, such a design emphasizes efficiency in the way we live and minimizes our literal footprint on the earth’s surface as a function of living vertically as opposed to horizontally. personally, i don’t see any way either of these towers get the go-ahead anytime in the near future. regardless, i should hope at the least these proposal generate discourse about the way we live and how we should be living. are towers of this size necessary? despite being green, what are their environmental impacts? how do incredible dense footprints such as this affect the vibrancy of the neighborhoods surrounding them? surely though possible, the designers don’t actually intend the residence never leave the structure? while certainly fascinating ideas, i for one prefer not to see these built for fear of shattering delicate urban fabrics and destroying the delicate scalar balance of human existence.

1 March 2008 Posted by | architecture, green, modern, society, technology, urban planning | 3 Comments

photo friday: bp3

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the sun sets on this precast concrete construction site.  located in bolingbrook, illinois (west of chicago), this building, aptly named bolingbrook point 3, was a large industrial spec building with some incredible forms at the office/entry bays.  the form of the building and the photo’s composition make this shot so wonderful.  the rich colors of the sky and the sunlight-warmed unfinished concrete walls compliment each other quite nicely.  the building seems to stretch on forever though and it makes me wonder about the appropriateness of such structures.  while they are certainly indispensable in the transportation and storage of goods through and into cities, i wonder if we shouldn’t be thinking about overhauling the entire way we think about manufacture and distribution. a larger network of smaller, localized buildings and patchworks of infrastructure may more appropriately serve the way we live.  as always you can find more photos here.

29 February 2008 Posted by | architecture, photo | Leave a comment

icecraft

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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 | 3 Comments

mile high

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today archinect pointed me to a fascinating press release by hyder consulting in which they claim to be designing a 1600m tall building…that’s one mile high.  of course immediately i’m reminded of the infamous frank lloyd wright design for the illinois, a mile high building itself (below).

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the current world’s tallest, though not yet completed is the burj dubai in dubai, uae slated to rise some 800m, or half as tall as this recent proposal (below).

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bldgblog whipped up the comparative picture at the top of the post; additionally though, a recent bldgblog post has even more significance with the announcement of a mile-high structure.  tapei 101, the world’s tallest structure prior to the burj dubai, has actually caused the land around it to become tectonically unstable (it was previously 100% safe), ie. prone to earthquakes.  the massive weight of the building itself is essentially causing earthquakes.  i can only imagine what kind of forces a mile high structure would impose upon the earth.  but the bigger issue here is not environmental effects or even architectural articulation of such structure, but the sociological implications they bring with them.  are supertall, supermassive, buildings ideal for living in?  isn’t there a serious concern with scale, at a point these buildings are no longer in line with any human scale.  furthermore, are these building even applicable to the way we live?  in a world of global transience, impermanence, and instant everything we no longer live like we used to (see the thesis category).  i can’t help but wonder if it’s even worth designing such a tower regardless of whether or not we can practically build it.

20 February 2008 Posted by | architecture, society, technology, thesis | Leave a comment

toxic trailers

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yesterday news broke that the fema trailers (pictured above) housing hurricane katrina victims tested positive for inordinate amounts of toxins, namely formaldehyde.  specifically, five times the normal levels of formaldehyde were found in fema trailers.  more than 100,000 people (some 38,000 families) still live in these temporary trailers almost 3 years after the hurricane, may of whom had been reporting serious illnesses and respitory problems almost immediately after being relocated to the trailers.  first, it’s simply unacceptable that 100,000 people are still living in temporary trailers almost three years later.  second, i am astounded to find that, at minimum, these people havent been relocated to any number of the proposed alternative dwellings all of which have been extremely cheap and necessarily small but humane and warm with wonderful architectural articulation.

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some of these include the lovely katrina cottage (pictured above and discussed here).  another wonderful example is the architecture for humanity response in biloxi, mississippi (pictured below and discussed here and here).

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these people deserve better; i would think that at minimum they should not have to go to sleep at night hoping they aren’t being poisoned.  it is unconscionable for fema, the federal government, the state government, or insurance companies to allow this to happen.  furthermore, it is shameful that those who had to endure the devastating and traumatic experience of the hurricane have been forced to live like this, to live through this, for the past three years.

15 February 2008 Posted by | architecture, society | Leave a comment

photo friday: fifth ave.

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this photo was lifted from devyn’s nyc photoblog, 24gotham.  as one of our favorite blogs we’ve mentioned it before, but it always proves interesting.  this is a powerful shot to be sure.   according to the metadata it was taken with a nikon d80, which just makes me jealous.  the overwhelming perspective combined with the dynamic black and white tones really make this picture pop (not to mention a certain special building in the background anchoring the whole composition).  if you’ve never seen 24gotham be sure to check it out (you could also venture to his old chicago-based photoblog, aptly named looper, if you’re feeling adventurous).

15 February 2008 Posted by | architecture, photo, urban planning | 1 Comment

whitehouse redux

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announced back in mid-january is the whitehouse redux design competition.  the competition has a fascinating premise: what if the whitehouse was designed today?  with an incredible program of spaces, a dramatic site, and historical significance, the project offers a unique architectural experiment.  issues of democracy and transparency in design, security, and historicism will be exciting to address.  i can’t help but think of gunter behnisch’s work in the field of democracy and desgin, especially that of the munich olympics of ’72.  from the competition website:

home of the world’s most powerful individual.  universally recognized symbol of political authority.  one of america’s greatest tourist attractions.  nerve-center of the world’s most complex communications system.  the ultimate architectural embodiment of power.

few people realize the extent of the white house, since much of it is below ground or otherwise concealed by landscaping.  the white house includes: six stories and 55,000 square feet of floor space, 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, 147 windows, twenty-eight fireplaces, eight staircases, three elevators, five full-time chefs, a tennis court, a bowling alley, a movie theater, a jogging track, a swimming pool, and a putting green.  it receives about 5,000 visitors a day.

the original white house design, by james hoban, was the result of a competition held in 1792.  over the centuries, presidents have added rooms, facilities and even entire new wings, turning the white house into the labyrinthine complex it is today.

what if, instead of in 1792, that competition were to be held today?  what would a white house designed in 2008, year of election of the 44th president of the united states, look like?

entries are due 20 april 2008.  winners will be selected in may.

10 February 2008 Posted by | architecture, modern, society, urban planning | 6 Comments

photo friday: stoic standpipe

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after a long absence and a busy life i’m back to posting (hopefully very regularly).  this friday’s photo is a quiet compilation of standpipes that  stoically keep time on along state street here in chicago on the south edge of the loop.  i love the combination of tones and depth of field in this image.  i shot this frame last october using kodak ektachrome professional plus color slide film.

8 February 2008 Posted by | architecture, photo | Leave a comment

plug-in city

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proposed in hay days of modernism (and anything but in the architectural movement sense of the word) in 1964 by archigram, this hypermodern futurist project was, in many ways, ahead of its time. plug-in city is literally, to borrow le corbusier’s words, “a machine for living.” i’ve been doing some investigation on this project as part of a set of case studies for the thesis project i’ve been working on. interestingly, the plug-in city proposal is actually devoid of actual “buildings;” rather, the idea is to provide a framework, or a megastructure, that acts as a dwelling unit host. this is an idea we’ve talked about previously in andrew maynard’s corb v2.0, which in many ways is a contemporary redesign of the archigram project. nonetheless, the plug-in city is fascinating in it’s approach to flexible living arrangements. the megastructure, as designed, is intended to house dwelling units. these standardized units literally plug into and out of the the provided framework allowing for an ever evolving transformable piece of flexible architecture.  to further the “machines for living” analogy, people essentially serve as raw materials being “processed” in what is, hopefully, an enjoyable living experience.

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one’s mind can’t help but imagine a world in which people actually live in what amounts to true mobile homes. complete dwelling units capable of driving down the road from megastructure to megastructure stopping off over night or for months or years on end and plugging-in, effectively becoming part of the building. this fluid world seems to be approaching more readily than we’d like to admit and it seems, now, 40 years later that archigram may have really been truly ahead of their time.

3 December 2007 Posted by | architecture, modern, society, thesis, urban planning | 1 Comment

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.

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