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.

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

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

animal type

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last week core77 pointed me towards a wonderfully ingenious typography set. jeremy pettis of the milwaukee institute of art and design designed this set as part of a thesis project. the set is organized by the first letter of each animal in alphabetical order.

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furthermore though, the font of each animal is appropriate to the form and characteristics of that animal, often times the written word resembles the animal’s shape itself. i find this to be creative, fun, and fascinating.

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according to jeremy, “the animal idea began as a joke but then i realized that it would be a great way to bridge the gap between people who are into type and the average person. everyone knows and loves animals so it was something familiar to lead the viewer through the unfamiliar.”

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24 February 2008 Posted by | modern, society | 1 Comment

unique notebooks

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the always fun better living through design highlighted this wonderful notebook produced by rare device.  it is a limited edition run of elegantly and uniquely designed notebooks that feature a multitude of paper types within.  additionally, the notebook is bound in such a way it can lay open flat upon a table.  head over to the product page a take a look for yourself.  personally, i love these unique little gems.

11 February 2008 Posted by | modern, products | 3 Comments

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

no drip carafes

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from an ingenious portfolio on behance network comes this proposal for an elegant carafe utilizing two lip system to eliminate dripping. the noro no-drip employs a wonderfully creative system of two-lips that allows for the reacquisition of dripping liquid, thus eliminating sticky tables and carafes everywhere (below).

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as if the engineering behind the carafe wasn’t enough for me to want to see this product brought to market the bottle’s form is simply stunning (top). gentle curves and counter curves of clear glass come to life when filled with liquid. the two lip system at the top almost appears as a motion blur ghost of a lip. it’s a pure, simple, functional, design that does nothing more than improve the way we live.

26 December 2007 Posted by | materials, modern, products, technology | 2 Comments

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

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

innovative cars

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the new york times has an insightful article today about some of the new innovative automotive designs and technologies rolling off the production lines these days (including the three-wheel beauty, the venture vehicle, above, designed by ian bruce). the venture vehicle is the bizarre love-child of a motorcycle and a sports car. the car features a much smaller and lighter frame which inherently allows for improved fuel consumption. add that to electric hybrid motor and you have one good-looking fuel-efficient vehicle. head on over and read the full article for stories about a number of other new hybrid or all-electric cars currently in design, prototyping, or even production phases (naturally coming in all shapes, sizes, and powertrains).

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