robertogreco + construction   104

Why Japanese houses have such limited lifespans - Nobody’s home
"EVERY 20 years in the eastern coastal Japanese city of Ise, the shrine, one of the country’s most venerated, is knocked down and rebuilt. The ritual is believed to refresh spiritual bonds between the people and the gods. Demolishing houses has no such lofty objective. Yet in Japan they have a similarly short life expectancy.

According to Nomura, a brokerage, the value of the average Japanese house depreciates to zero in 22 years. (It is calculated separately from the land, which is more likely to hold its value.) Most are knocked down and rebuilt. Sales of new homes far outstrip those of used ones, which usually change hands in the expectation that they will be demolished and replaced. In America and Europe second-hand houses accounted for 90% of sales and new-builds for 10% in 2017. In Japan the proportions are the other way around.

The reasons for Japanese houses’ rapid loss of value lie partly in tradition. In many countries people buy when they pair off, when they move to a bigger place after they have children or when they downsize on retirement. Japanese people have tended to see out all life’s stages in the same dwelling, a custom they attribute to their history as a farming nation, when they had to stay put. As a result, they never got used to second-hand homes.

The frequency of earthquakes also plays a part. Large tremors tend to be followed by tougher building regulations. Many people want to live in a home built to the most recent standards. History also helped to form habits. During the second world war dozens of cities, including Tokyo, had been flattened by American bombs. The population then was growing fast. Quantity was valued over quality. Big prefab manufacturers, such as Daiwa House, survive to this day, bringing out new models every year that, as with cars, people aspire to upgrade to.

One careless owner
In a vicious cycle, houses are expected to depreciate and are therefore not maintained, so second-hand homes are often dingy and depressing. Japanese people also shun wake-ari bukken, buildings “stigmatised” because, say, a former resident committed suicide there or a cult resides nearby. “In Japan, the words old and charming do not go together,” says Noriko Kagami, an estate agent (who tore down a house she bought herself).

Unsurprisingly, given the speed at which the value of houses falls to nothing, banks are more willing to offer loans for new places. Government policy, long aimed at resolving a housing shortage, further skews housebuyers’ incentives. It is not tax-efficient to improve a house, says Daisuke Fukushima of Nomura, since property taxes are based on value. Someone who buys a new-build must pay 0.4% of its value to register ownership. Registering a change of ownership costs 2%.

Construction and home-fitting companies benefit from this speedy housing cycle. But in the longer term is it wasteful. Chie Nozawa of Toyo University compares it to slash-and-burn farming. “We are not building wealth,” says Yasuhiko Nakajo, who leads the property department at Meikai University.

When the number of mouths to feed is growing, slash-and-burn at least makes short-term sense. But Japan’s throwaway housing culture, shaped by a once-urgent need to house growing numbers, makes no sense now that the population is shrinking. The country currently has an estimated 10m abandoned homes, a number that is expected to rise above 20m by 2033.

That is a problem for entire neighbourhoods: a derelict lot drags down the value of nearby houses. It also complicates the transfer of wealth from the big post-war generation. A house that is worth nothing cannot be sold to pay for an assisted-living apartment or a place in a nursing home, or handed on as an inheritance.

The government has, belatedly, started to rethink its policies. It set itself the target of doubling the number of used-housing sales in 2020 compared with ten years earlier, and is strengthening a home-surveying system introduced in 2013. From next month estate agents will have to give prospective buyers more information, including disclosing the results of any inspection. Much still remains unclear, though, including how long the results of a survey will remain valid, and whether the seller will be liable for defects that were not disclosed during the sale.

The government is also considering reducing the taxes associated with buying a home if it is currently vacant. Some regions are offering incentives to buyers of abandoned homes, including financial aid and lower taxes.

Banks are becoming a little more forthcoming with loans for second-hand housing. Some housing companies are starting to offer renovation and refurbishment services. When Motoazabu Hills, a posh building of rented apartments in central Tokyo, recently changed hands, the new owner decided to gut and redo the interiors rather than knock the whole thing down. AERA, a magazine, recently published a guide to buying property that will retain its value. Among its tips was to buy in an area that is home to lots of women in their 20s and 30s (ie, of childbearing age).

All this is having some success. In the cities a larger share of people now rent than own places, and move more often. “We are entering a stage where people are starting to see a used home as an option,” says Mr Nakajo. In 2017 a record 37,329 second-hand flats were sold in Tokyo, a 31% increase on ten years earlier. Yet until what Mr Nakajo dubs the “20-year-mentality” changes, the preference for shiny and new will remain."
japan  housing  depreciation  economics  2018  policy  construction  taxes 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Vessel – The Quiet Room.
"Is it possible to find refuge from the din of 21st century life? Over the next few months I am building a room to find what “quiet” means today, and how to make time and space for such a place in the everyday. Join me on this expedition: twitter, instagram, periscope, and regular updates right here."



"Vessel.fm is created by architect Nick Sowers. Prior to starting his independent practice in 2013, Nick designed museums, residences, and offices for architects in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Rotterdam. He holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley where he traveled the world with a recorder looking and listening to bunkers and bases."
nicksowers  architecture  sound  construction  quiet 
april 2018 by robertogreco
West Portal - FoundSF
"The West Portal shopping and residential district takes its name from the Twin Peaks Tunnel, which ushered in streetcar service to the southeast corner of San Francisco in 1918. MUNI streetcar service opened San Francisco's last great wilderness to residential development. Formerly sand dunes and vegetable farms, today West Portal is the area bounded by Portola, Kensington, Taraval, and 15th Avenue. High quality homes on detached lots lead to rapid growth in the 1920s and set the stage for West Portal to become the commercial and transportation hub for the West of Twin Peaks area.

In Spanish times, West Portal was part of the land holdings of Mission de Dolores. After the break up of the Missions, Jose de Jesus Noe was granted a 4,443 acre ranch in 1846, called Rancho San Miguel. The ranch ran from present day UCSF in Parnassus Heights to San Jose Avenue, south to Daly City and north to Juniper Serra Boulevard and Forest Hill, including the area of present day West Portal. Parts of the ranch east of Twin Peals were subdivided in the late 1800s and became Noe Valley, Eureka Valley, Fairmont Heights, and Sunnyside.

But West Portal remained a ranch until well after the 20th Century. Adolph Sutro bought the remnant of the original rancho in 1880 -- a 1,200-acre parcel that ran from present day UCSF, south along Stanyan Street, up over Twin Peaks due south roughly along present-day Ridgewood Avenue, continuing south to the Ocean View district, then north along Junipero Serra Boulevard to the Laguna Honda reservoir.

While most of the ranch was hilly, the area that later became West Portal was relatively flat, and Sutro rented it to Italian vegetable farmers. For the next 35 years, the rest of Rancho San Miguel remained a nature preserve. Sutro's passion for tree planting eventually covered the slopes of Mt. Sutro and Mt. Davidson as far south as Ocean Avenue with eucalyptus.

When the rancho was put up for sale in 1909 after a contentious battle over Sutro's will, the City was desperate to recover from the 1906 earthquake and fire. City boosters badly wanted to compete with new subdivisions being built on the Peninsula and in the East Bay. The Burnham plan of 1905 and the City Beautiful Movement called for respecting the contours of the land and incorporating landscaping into residential developments. It was no longer acceptable to pack houses tightly together on rectangular street grids that ignored the terrain.

The first neighborhoods to be developed, St Francis Wood and Forest Hill in 1912, were faithful to these new ideas and were carefully designed and built as "residential parks." Both developments prohibited commercial activities and were made up exclusively of large homes from the Craftsman movement, the Chicago school, the prairie style of Frank Lloyd right, the Beaux-Arts, and other styles. In contrast, West Portal became a commercial and transportation hub with homes in a wide variety of architectural styles."
sanfrancisco  westportal  history  classideas  2003  richardbrandi  tunnels  construction  muni  transportation 
december 2017 by robertogreco
The Future of Cities – Medium
[video (embedded): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOOWk5yCMMs ]

"Organic Filmmaking and City Re-Imagining

What does “the future of cities” mean? To much of the developing world, it might be as simple as aspiring to having your own toilet, rather than sharing one with over 100 people. To a family in Detroit, it could mean having non-toxic drinking water. For planners and mayors, it’s about a lot of things — sustainability, economy, inclusivity, and resilience. Most of us can hope we can spend a little less time on our commutes to work and a little more time with our families. For a rich white dude up in a 50th floor penthouse, “the future of cities” might mean zipping around in a flying car while a robot jerks you off and a drone delivers your pizza. For many companies, the future of cities is simply about business and money, presented to us as buzzwords like “smart city” and “the city of tomorrow.”

I started shooting the “The Future of a Cities” as a collaboration with the The Nantucket Project, but it really took shape when hundreds of people around the world responded to a scrappy video I made asking for help.

Folks of all ages, from over 75 countries, volunteered their time, thoughts, work, and footage so that I could expand the scope of the piece and connect with more people in more cities. This strategy saved me time and money, but it also clarified the video’s purpose, which inspired me to put more energy into the project in order to get it right. I was reading Jan Gehl, Jane Jacobs, Edward Glaeser, etc. and getting excited about their ideas — after seeing what mattered to the people I met in person and watching contributions from those I didn’t, the video gained focus and perspective.

If I hired a production services outfit to help me film Mumbai, it would actually be a point of professional pride for the employees to deliver the Mumbai they think I want to see. If some young filmmakers offer to show me around their city and shoot with me for a day, we’re operating on another level, and a very different portrait of a city emerges. In the first scenario, my local collaborators get paid and I do my best to squeeze as much work out of the time period paid for as possible. In the second, the crew accepts more responsibility but gains ownership, hopefully leaving the experience feeling more empowered.

Architect and former mayor of Curitiba Jaime Lerner famously said “if you want creativity, take a zero off your budget. If you want sustainability, take off two zeros.” It’s been my experience that this sustainability often goes hand-in-hand with humanity, and part of what I love about working with less resources and money is that it forces you to treat people like human beings. Asking someone to work with less support or equipment, or to contribute more time for less money, requires a mutual understanding between two people. If each person can empathize for the other, it’s been my experience that we’ll feel it in the work — both in the process and on screen.

Organic filmmaking requires you to keep your crew small and your footprint light. You start filming with one idea in mind, but the idea changes each day as elements you could never have anticipated inform the bigger picture. You make adjustments and pursue new storylines. You edit a few scenes, see what’s working and what’s not, then write new scenes. Shoot those, cut them in, then go back and write more. Each part of the process talks to the other. The movie teaches itself to be a better movie. Because organic is complicated, it can be tricky to defend and difficult to scale up, but because it’s cheap and low-resource, it’s easier to experiment. Learning about the self-organizing, living cities that I did on this project informed how we made the video. And looking at poorly planned urban projects reminded me of the broken yet prevailing model for making independent film in the U.S., where so many films are bound to fail — often in a way a filmmaker doesn’t recover from — before they even begin.

Jane Jacobs said that “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” I’ve worked on videos for companies, for the guy in the penthouse, for nobody in particular, in the developing world, with rich people and poor people, for me, for my friends, and for artists. I’m so thankful for everybody who allowed me to make this film the way we did, and I hope the parallels between filmmaking and city building — where the stakes are so much higher — aren’t lost on anyone trying to make their city a better place. We should all be involved. The most sustainable future is a future that includes us all.

“The Future of Cities” Reading List

(There’s a longer list I discovered recently from Planetizen HERE but these are the ones I got into on this project — I’m excited to read many more)

The Death and Life of American Cities by Jane Jacobs
The Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward Glaeser
Cities for People and Life Between Buildings by Jan Gehl
The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life by Jonathan Rose(just came out — incredible)
Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck
The City of Tomorrow: Sensors, Networks, Hackers, and the Future of Urban Life by Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel
Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery
Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World by Wade Graham
Connectography: Mapping The Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna
Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas
Low Life and The Other Paris by Luc Sante
A History of Future Cities by Daniel Brook
Streetfight: Handbook for the Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow
Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action for Long-Term Change by Mike Lydon & Anthony Garcia
Living In The Endless City, edited by Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic

“The Future of Cities” Select Interviewees:
David Hertz & Sky Source
Vicky Chan & Avoid Obvious Architects
Carlo Ratti: Director, MIT Senseable City Lab Founding Partner, Carlo Ratti Associati
Edward Glaeser: Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard University Author of The Triumph of the City
Helle Søholt: Founding Parner & CEO, Gehl Architects
Ricky Burdett: Director, LSE Cities/Urban Age
Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer, City of Boston
Pablo Viejo: Smart Cities Expert & CTO V&V Innovations, Singapore
Matias Echanove & Urbz, Mumbai
Janette Sadik-Khan: Author, Advisor, & Former NYC DOT Commissioner
Abess Makki: CEO, City Insight
Dr. Parag Khanna: Author of Connectography
Stan Gale: CEO of Gale International, Developer of Songdo IBD
Dr. Jockin Arputham: President, Slum Dwellers International
Morton Kabell: Mayor for Technical & Environmental Affairs, Copenhagen
cities  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  bikes  biking  cars  singapore  nyc  losangeles  janejacobs  jangehl  edwardglaeser  mumbai  tokyo  regulation  jaimelerner  curitiba  nantucketproject  carloratti  vickchan  davidhertz  hellesøholt  rickyburdett  laurenlockwood  pabloviejo  matiasechanove  urbz  janettesadik-khan  abessmakki  paragkhanna  stangale  jockinarputham  slumdwellersinternational  slums  mortonkabell  urbanization  future  planning  oscarboyson  mikelydon  anthonygarcia  danielbrook  lucsante  remkoolhaas  dayansudjic  rickyburdettsethsolomonow  wadegraham  charlesmontgomery  matthewclaudeljeffspeck  jonathanrose  transportation  publictransit  transit  housing  construction  development  local  small  grassroots  technology  internet  web  online  communications  infrastructure  services  copenhagen  sidewalks  pedestrians  sharing  filmmaking  film  video  taipei  seoul  santiago  aukland  songdo  sydney  london  nairobi  venice  shenzhen  2016  sustainability  environment  population  detroit  making  manufacturing  buildings  economics  commutes  commuting 
december 2016 by robertogreco
The Unintended Consequences of Law | Builder Magazine | Housing Policy
"How did an entire state price itself out of the market for entry-level home buyers?"
california  housing  housingcrisis  la  regulation  2016  construction  joebosquin 
october 2016 by robertogreco
The Innovation Campus: Building Better Ideas - The New York Times
"Can architecture spur creativity? Universities are investing in big, high-tech buildings in the hope of evoking big, high-tech thinking."



"Though studies have shown that proximity and conversation can produce creative ideas, there’s little research on the designs needed to facilitate the process. Still, there are commonalities.

In many of the new buildings, an industrial look prevails, along with an end to privacy. You are more likely to find a garage door and a 3-D printer than book-lined offices and closed-off classrooms, more likely to huddle with peers at a round table than go to a lecture hall with seats for 100. Seating is flexible, ranging from bleachers to sofas, office chairs to privacy booths. Furniture is often on wheels, so that groups can rearrange it. (The Institute of Design at Stanford, a model for many, has directions for building a whiteboard z-rack on its website.)

Staircases and halls are wide and often daylit, encouraging people to dwell between their appointments in hopes of having a creative collision. Exposure to natural light itself contributes to improved workplace performance. There’s also much more to do with your hands than take notes in class: The need to move your body, by working on a prototype, taking the stairs or going in search of caffeine at a centralized cafe, is built in, providing breaks to let the mind wander.

The rationales for these buildings are varied: Employers are dissatisfied with graduates’ preparation, students are unhappy with outdated teaching methods, and colleges want to attract students whose eyes are on postgrad venture capital and whose scalable ideas might come in handy on campus. And so universities of all sizes, both public (Wichita State, University of Utah, University of Iowa) and private (Cornell, Northwestern, Stanford), have opened or are planning such facilities."



"How successful will Wichita State and other universities be at fueling innovation and, ultimately, a new entrepreneurship economy? The proof may be many years out, and difficult to quantify. But the pressure on administrators to change their campuses may soon come, not just from above and within, but from below.

An anecdote from Kevin B. Sullivan of Payette, whose firm has interdisciplinary science and engineering centers under construction at Northeastern and Tufts, underscores the urgency. “I’m on the board of my daughter’s high school, and what they are doing there is taking the existing library, gutting it and turning it into a tech-enablement space,” he said. “The college process may be dumbed down from what they do in high school.”"
alexandralange  architecture  highered  highereducation  universities  colleges  construction  innovation  economics  cornelltech  cornell  universityofutah  yorkuniversity  northwesternuniversity  stanford  universityofiowa  wichitastateuniversity  engineerting  creativity  stem 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Why Tokyo is the land of rising home construction but not prices - FT.com
"The city had more housing starts in 2014 than the whole of England. Can Japan’s capital offer lessons to other world cities?

It was the rapidity of what happened to the house next door that took us by surprise. We knew it was empty. Grass was steadily taking over its mossy Japanese garden; the upstairs curtains never moved. But one day a notice went up, a hydraulic excavator tore the house down, and by the end of next year it will be a block of 16 apartments instead.

Abruptly, we are living next door to a Tokyo building site. It is not fun. They work six days a week. Were this London, Paris or San Francisco, there would be howls of resident rage — petitions, dire warnings about loss of neighbourhood character, and possibly a lawsuit or two. Local elections have been lost for less.

Yet in our neighbourhood, there was not a murmur, and a conversation with Takahiko Noguchi, head of the planning section in Minato ward, explains why. “There is no legal restraint on demolishing a building,” he says. “People have the right to use their land so basically neighbouring people have no right to stop development.”

Here is a startling fact: in 2014 there were 142,417 housing starts in the city of Tokyo (population 13.3m, no empty land), more than the 83,657 housing permits issued in the state of California (population 38.7m), or the 137,010 houses started in the entire country of England (population 54.3m).

Tokyo’s steady construction is linked to a still more startling fact. In contrast to the enormous house price booms that have distorted western cities — setting young against old, redistributing wealth to the already wealthy, and denying others the chance to move to where the good jobs are — the cost of property in Japan’s capital has hardly budged.

This is not the result of a falling population. Japan has experienced the same “return to the city” wave as other nations. In Minato ward — a desirable 20 sq km slice of central Tokyo — the population is up 66 per cent over the past 20 years, from 145,000 to 241,000, an increase of about 100,000 residents.

[Chart: Change in house prices and population]

In the 121 sq km of San Francisco, the population grew by about the same number over 20 years, from 746,000 to 865,000 — a rise of 16 per cent. Yet whereas the price of a home in San Francisco and London has increased 231 per cent and 441 per cent respectively, Minato ward has absorbed its population boom with price rises of just 45 per cent, much of which came after the Bank of Japan launched its big monetary stimulus in 2013.

In Tokyo there are no boring conversations about house prices because they have not changed much. Whether to buy or rent is not a life-changing decision. Rather, Japan delivers to its people a steadily improving standard, location and volume of house.

In many countries, urban housing is becoming one of the great social and economic issues of the age. (Would Britain have voted for Brexit if more of the population could move to London?) It is worth investigating, therefore, how Tokyo achieved this feat, the price it has paid for a steady stream of homes, and whether there are any lessons to learn.

Like most institutions in Japan, urban planning was originally based on western models. “It’s similar to the United States system,” says Junichiro Okata, professor of urban engineering at the University of Tokyo.

Cities are zoned into commercial, industrial and residential land of various types. In commercial areas you can build what you want: part of Tokyo’s trick is a blossoming of apartment towers in former industrial zones around the bay. But in low-rise residential districts, there are strict limits, and it is hard to get land rezoned.

Subject to the zoning rules, the rights of landowners are strong. In fact, Japan’s constitution declares that “the right to own or to hold property is inviolable”. A private developer cannot make you sell land; a local government cannot stop you using it. If you want to build a mock-Gothic castle faced in pink seashells, that is your business.

In the cities of coastal California, zoning rules have led to paralysis and a lack of new housing supply, as existing homeowners block new development. It was a similar story in 1980s Tokyo.

“During the 1980s Japan had a spectacular speculative house price bubble that was even worse than in London and New York during the same period, and various Japanese economists were decrying the planning and zoning systems as having been a major contributor by reducing supply,” says André Sorensen, a geography professor at the University of Toronto, who has written extensively on planning in Japan.

But, indirectly, it was the bubble that laid foundations for future housing across the centre of Tokyo, says Hiro Ichikawa, who advises developer Mori Building. When it burst, developers were left with expensively assembled office sites for which there was no longer any demand.

As bad loans to developers brought Japan’s financial system to the brink of collapse in the 1990s, the government relaxed development rules, culminating in the Urban Renaissance Law of 2002, which made it easier to rezone land. Office sites were repurposed for new housing. “To help the economy recover from the bubble, the country eased regulation on urban development,” says Ichikawa. “If it hadn’t been for the bubble, Tokyo would be in the same situation as London or San Francisco.”

Hallways and public areas were excluded from the calculated size of apartment buildings, letting them grow much higher within existing zoning, while a proposal now under debate would allow owners to rebuild bigger if they knock down blocks built to old earthquake standards.

All of this law flows from the national government, and freedom to demolish and rebuild means landowners can quickly take advantage. “The city planning law and the building law are set nationally — even small details are written in national law,” says Okata. “Local government has almost no power over development.”

“Without rebuilding we can’t protect lives [from earthquakes],” says Noguchi in Minato ward, reflecting the prevailing view in Japan that all buildings are temporary and disposable, another crucial difference between Tokyo and its western counterparts. “There are still plenty of places with old buildings where it’s possible to increase the volume.”

Constant rebuilding helps to explain why housing starts in the city are so high: the net increase in homes is lower. Like our next-door neighbours, however, a rebuild often allows an increase in density.

All of this comes at a price, not financial, but one paid in other ways. Put simply, the modern Japanese cityscape — Tokyo included — can be spectacularly ugly. There is no visual co-ordination of buildings, little open space, and “high-quality” mainly means “won’t fall down in an earthquake”.

Some of Tokyo’s older apartment buildings give industrial Siberia a dystopian run for its money. The mock-Gothic castle is no flight of fancy: visit the Emperor love hotel, which (de) faces the canal in Meguro ward. Most depressing of all are the serried, endless ranks of cheap, prefab, wooden houses in the Tokyo suburbs.

“The Japanese system is extremely laissez-faire. It really is the minimum. And it’s extremely centralised and standardised. That means it is highly flexible in responding to social and economic change,” says Okata.

“On the other hand, it’s not much good at producing outcomes suited to a particular town in a particular place. It can’t produce attractive cities like the UK or Europe.” Okata wants to hand much more power to local government.

And yet. At the level of individual buildings, if you block from your vision whatever stands next door, Tokyo fizzes with invention and beauty. It is no coincidence that the country where architects can build has produced a procession of Pritzker prize winners.

Japanese urbanism, with its “scramble” pedestrian crossings, its narrow streets, its dense population and its superb public transport is looked to as a model, certainly in Asia, and increasingly across the rest of the world as well.

Most of all, Tokyo is fair. The ugliness is shared by rich and poor alike. So is the low-cost housing. In London, or in San Francisco, all share in the beauty, but some enjoy it from the gutter; others from high above the city, in the rationed seats, closer to the stars."
japan  tokyo  sanfrancisco  london  us  uk  housing  population  property  construction  development  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  california  zoning  homeownership  policy  england  economics  propertyrights  density 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Minecraft Generation - The New York Times
"Seth Frey, a postdoctoral fellow in computational social science at Dartmouth College, has studied the behavior of thousands of youths on Minecraft servers, and he argues that their interactions are, essentially, teaching civic literacy. “You’ve got these kids, and they’re creating these worlds, and they think they’re just playing a game, but they have to solve some of the hardest problems facing humanity,” Frey says. “They have to solve the tragedy of the commons.” What’s more, they’re often anonymous teenagers who, studies suggest, are almost 90 percent male (online play attracts far fewer girls and women than single-­player mode). That makes them “what I like to think of as possibly the worst human beings around,” Frey adds, only half-­jokingly. “So this shouldn’t work. And the fact that this works is astonishing.”

Frey is an admirer of Elinor Ostrom, the Nobel Prize-­winning political economist who analyzed the often-­unexpected ways that everyday people govern themselves and manage resources. He sees a reflection of her work in Minecraft: Running a server becomes a crash course in how to compromise, balance one another’s demands and resolve conflict.

Three years ago, the public library in Darien, Conn., decided to host its own Minecraft server. To play, kids must acquire a library card. More than 900 kids have signed up, according to John Blyberg, the library’s assistant director for innovation and user experience. “The kids are really a community,” he told me. To prevent conflict, the library installed plug-ins that give players a chunk of land in the game that only they can access, unless they explicitly allow someone else to do so. Even so, conflict arises. “I’ll get a call saying, ‘This is Dasher80, and someone has come in and destroyed my house,’ ” Blyberg says. Sometimes library administrators will step in to adjudicate the dispute. But this is increasingly rare, Blyberg says. “Generally, the self-­governing takes over. I’ll log in, and there’ll be 10 or 15 messages, and it’ll start with, ‘So-and-so stole this,’ and each message is more of this,” he says. “And at the end, it’ll be: ‘It’s O.K., we worked it out! Disregard this message!’ ”

Several parents and academics I interviewed think Minecraft servers offer children a crucial “third place” to mature, where they can gather together outside the scrutiny and authority at home and school. Kids have been using social networks like Instagram or Snapchat as a digital third place for some time, but Minecraft imposes different social demands, because kids have to figure out how to respect one another’s virtual space and how to collaborate on real projects.

“We’re increasingly constraining youth’s ability to move through the world around them,” says Barry Joseph, the associate director for digital learning at the American Museum of Natural History. Joseph is in his 40s. When he was young, he and his friends roamed the neighborhood unattended, where they learned to manage themselves socially. Today’s fearful parents often restrict their children’s wanderings, Joseph notes (himself included, he adds). Minecraft serves as a new free-­ranging realm.

Joseph’s son, Akiva, is 9, and before and after school he and his school friend Eliana will meet on a Minecraft server to talk and play. His son, Joseph says, is “at home but still getting to be with a friend using technology, going to a place where they get to use pickaxes and they get to use shovels and they get to do that kind of building. I wonder how much Minecraft is meeting that need — that need that all children have.” In some respects, Minecraft can be as much social network as game.

Just as Minecraft propels kids to master Photoshop or video-­editing, server life often requires kids to acquire complex technical skills. One 13-year-old girl I interviewed, Lea, was a regular on a server called Total Freedom but became annoyed that its administrators weren’t clamping down on griefing. So she asked if she could become an administrator, and the owners said yes.

For a few months, Lea worked as a kind of cop on that beat. A software tool called “command spy” let her observe records of what players had done in the game; she teleported miscreants to a sort of virtual “time out” zone. She was eventually promoted to the next rank — “telnet admin,” which allowed her to log directly into the server via telnet, a command-­line tool often used by professionals to manage servers. Being deeply involved in the social world of Minecraft turned Lea into something rather like a professional systems administrator. “I’m supposed to take charge of anybody who’s breaking the rules,” she told me at the time.

Not everyone has found the online world of Minecraft so hospitable. One afternoon while visiting the offices of Mouse, a nonprofit organization in Manhattan that runs high-tech programs for kids, I spoke with Tori. She’s a quiet, dry-­witted 17-year-old who has been playing Minecraft for two years, mostly in single-­player mode; a recent castle-­building competition with her younger sister prompted some bickering after Tori won. But when she decided to try an online server one day, other players — after discovering she was a girl — spelled out “BITCH” in blocks.

She hasn’t gone back. A group of friends sitting with her in the Mouse offices, all boys, shook their heads in sympathy; they’ve seen this behavior “everywhere,” one said. I have been unable to find solid statistics on how frequently harassment happens in Minecraft. In the broader world of online games, though, there is more evidence: An academic study of online players of Halo, a shoot-’em-up game, found that women were harassed twice as often as men, and in an unscientific poll of 874 self-­described online gamers, 63 percent of women reported “sex-­based taunting, harassment or threats.” Parents are sometimes more fretful than the players; a few told me they didn’t let their daughters play online. Not all girls experience harassment in Minecraft, of course — Lea, for one, told me it has never happened to her — and it is easy to play online without disclosing your gender, age or name. In-game avatars can even be animals.

How long will Minecraft’s popularity endure? It depends very much on Microsoft’s stewardship of the game. Company executives have thus far kept a reasonably light hand on the game; they have left major decisions about the game’s development to Mojang and let the team remain in Sweden. But you can imagine how the game’s rich grass-roots culture might fray. Microsoft could, for example, try to broaden the game’s appeal by making it more user-­friendly — which might attenuate its rich tradition of information-­sharing among fans, who enjoy the opacity and mystery. Or a future update could tilt the game in a direction kids don’t like. (The introduction of a new style of combat this spring led to lively debate on forums — some enjoyed the new layer of strategy; others thought it made Minecraft too much like a typical hack-and-slash game.) Or an altogether new game could emerge, out-­Minecrafting Minecraft.

But for now, its grip is strong. And some are trying to strengthen it further by making it more accessible to lower-­income children. Mimi Ito has found that the kids who acquire real-world skills from the game — learning logic, administering servers, making YouTube channels — tend to be upper middle class. Their parents and after-­school programs help them shift from playing with virtual blocks to, say, writing code. So educators have begun trying to do something similar, bringing Minecraft into the classroom to create lessons on everything from math to history. Many libraries are installing Minecraft on their computers."
2016  clivethompson  education  videogames  games  minecraft  digitalculture  gaming  mimiito  robinsloan  coding  computationalthinking  stem  programming  commandline  ianbogost  walterbenjamin  children  learning  resilience  colinfanning  toys  lego  wood  friedrichfroebel  johnlocke  rebeccamir  mariamontessori  montessori  carltheodorsorensen  guilds  mentoring  mentorship  sloyd  denmark  construction  building  woodcrafting  woodcraft  adventureplaygrounds  material  logic  basic  mojang  microsoft  markuspersson  notch  modding  photoshop  texturepacks  elinorostrom  collaboration  sethfrey  civics  youtube  networkedlearning  digitalliteracy  hacking  computers  screentime  creativity  howwelearn  computing  froebel 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Life at an Incredible Height - The Morning News
"In Mumbai, paltry regulation means hundreds of new skyscrapers bring more lows than highs.

Photographs of new construction, with titles named after the buildings’ advertising slogans.

Alicja Dobrucka is a Polish photographer interested in the passage of time, cultural identity, and how one culture influences or appropriates elements of another. Alicja’s work has appeared in exhibitions in various cities, including Lisbon, Venice, Poznan, and her current base London. While visiting Mumbai, Alicja observed how a lucrative real estate sector and poorly regulated construction are pushing the skyline to grow taller and taller and transforming the city into a hazard for people and the environment. Her series “Life is on a high” confronts this explosive construction by juxtaposing photos of the buildings with the ad copy promising a life of luxury for their future occupants.

Studio-X Mumbai will exhibit selections from “Life is on a high” in the latter half of 2014."

[photographs with captions]

"The Morning News:
What brought you to Mumbai in the first place?

Alicja Dobrucka:
I first came to Mumbai at the end of 2011 for a residency and an exhibition, and honestly I didn’t dare pull out my camera. I find India is rather difficult to photograph, as it’s just too photogenic. I kept coming back to the city, and it wasn’t until two years later, in 2013, that this series actually came about.

TMN:
Tell us about the trickiest part of making these images.

AD:
Shooting the series was not an easy task, considering that I chose to execute it with a large format camera, so the process became much slower. The most demanding, trickiest, and time-consuming part was actually receiving permission as each building has a guard downstairs. It is not a problem to walk around with any digital equipment, but as soon as you pull out a tripod the problem starts.
There are some areas, like Worli Naka, where people are very aware of photographers and are requested to report anyone taking pictures to the police. It’s an aftermath of the 2008 attacks as there were white photographers doing mapping for Pakistani bombers.

TMN:
What surprised you during the process?

AD:
My assistant Omrita Nandi and I had many adventures while shooting. Mumbai is a place where as a woman you cannot go many places alone. Once when we visited an inhabited building and while asking for permission to photograph, the man we were speaking to—the head of security of that building—unzipped his fly. I wasn’t quite sure whether that really was happening as we did feel we weren’t alone there. We ran a floor down and, in panic, tried to ask the family who were living there who was the secretary. Each building in Mumbai has someone like a director of the decision-making panel, called the secretary. The people refused to speak to us.

This was not the only case of such behavior, which is actually more shocking rather than surprising.

TMN:
Could you replicate this series in another city? Let’s say, in London where you live?

AD:
Yes, that would definitely be possible in many developing Asian cities. I have recently visited Hong Kong and Istanbul, where I saw some amazingly horrendous construction, and I’m sure I would have a lot of joy capturing them. I’m not sure about London, as the system of centralized urban planning is highly organized there.

TMN:
The writer George Saunders, discussing the art of fiction, said art starts with intention and “our intention is to crack life open for just a second.” In what ways have you experienced this through photography?

AD:
Ha! I think for me this happens in the process: research, experimenting, and when it all starts coming together. It has to do with the vulnerability caused by the uncertainly of whether it’s going to work out.

TMN:
What will this city look like in 10 years?

AD:
I’m very interested to know that. I presume that the photographed buildings will look much worse once they have lived a little in the moist Mumbai climate.

Mumbai is definitely becoming a vertical city slaved to the car and in which the pavements are bound to disappear. The island city is rapidly expanding onto the mainland.

The way things look like at the moment is that if the small number of people who are aware of the world heritage of the city fail to protect it, all the charming post-colonial architectural leftovers will have disappeared and be replaced by the modern structures with more chain restaurants and coffee shops.

TMN:
Where are you taking your camera next?

AD:
Just got back from a residency in Sivas, Turkey, organized by the Tandem program participants: Kasia Sobucka, Merja Briñón, Talat Alkan, and Serra Özhan Yüksel. I was working with the local crafts people, as well as on sculptures and paintings and with a local musician on a video piece.

When it comes to photography, the next destinations are Turkey and India. But who knows, things may change. I like to keep an element of spontaneity."
mumbai  india  construction  architecture  photography  alicjadobrucka  urban  cities  skyscrapers 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Plastic Passion: The Civil Engineering Solution to Weak Roadways -
"Asphalt: it fades, dips, cracks, and needs constant repairing. This is the type of degradation seen throughout the large majority of construction work, and this is the type of common problem many have tried to address throughout the history of roadwork and construction. And while there have been solutions, none have been permanent or sustainable. One of the newest and most innovative remedies to tackle the common construction dilemma is the idea of actually using plastic to replace asphalt; IE: plastic roads.

Known as Project PlasticRoad and headed up by Dutch company VolkerWessels, the actual plastic in the PlasticRoad project is made out of entirely 100% recycled materials and is the company’s sustainable alternative to conventional road structures. VolkerWessels’s plastic solution basically turns recycled plastic into prefabricated road parts that can later be installed in single pieces.

Lightweight in design and virtually maintenance free according to the company, using plastic in place of asphalt would reduce construction time by nearly a fraction and last three times the expected lifespan of conventional roadwork. Whereas a typical road can take months to be built, the plastic alternative provides construction with the opportunity to cut time in half and complete road work within weeks instead of months. According to VolkerWessels, using plastic as an alternative construction material opens up innovations typically limited by asphalt, such as:

• Power generation
• Quiet road surfaces
• Heated roads
• Modular construction

In addition to plastic’s advantage of being a lightweight material, it also acts as an appropriately durable solution that can take wear and tear in a way asphalt cannot. Plastic is unaffected by corrosion and weather and can handle temperatures as low as -40 degrees celsius and as high as 80 degree celsius without difficulty. The green material is resistant to chemical corrosion, too, and is a true portrait of a low-maintenance construction material.

Because of its predicted lifespan and relatively little to no road maintenance, plastic opens up construction roadwork to less time and labor spent on repairs and less traffic congestion within cities.

But one of the biggest advantages of using plastic instead of asphalt is the way VolkerWesssls envisions its design: a hollow space beneath the road that can be used for basic roadway amenities like cables, pipes, wirings, rainwater, and other infrastructural necessities. In the event of flooding or water retention, the hollow space can also be used to keep roads dry by using efficient drainage built into the roadways.

And because we’re talking about plastic and not asphalt, smart elements can be integrated into the prefabrication process of the actual road. Elements like traffic loop sensors, measuring equipment, and connections for light poles would all be possible by using plastic on roads instead of denser, less manageable asphalt.

Construction is in the midst of a technology intervention and process overhaul, and while asphalt will most likely continue to be the dominant material of choice, plastic as a viable and sustainable construction alternative is on the table for discussion. Could this be the beginning of plastic passion? It just might be."
plastic  roads  materials  infrastructure  construction  2015 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Rigamajig - YouTube
"Rigamajig is a new large-scale building kit for children conceived for hands-on, free play and learning. This collection of wooden planks, wheels, pulleys, nuts and bolts allow children to follow their curiosity while playing, and explore concepts in science, engineering, and art."

[See also: http://casholman.com/PROJECTS/RIGAMAJIG
http://rigamajig.com/
https://www.fastcodesign.com/3048508/the-case-for-letting-kids-design-their-own-play ]
toys  construction  casholman  play 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Digital Alchemist
"The family home [https://samslifeinjeddah.wordpress.com/tag/sami-angawi/ ] of architect Sami Angawi [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami_Angawi ], Jeddah, Saudi Arabia."



"I just read the links, and omg this is even better.

So I looked at it and knew it was using the open courtyard and the pools and fountains to do a lot of the work of cooling the house, but it’s also got drip irrigation for all of those plants (which adds more moisture to the air and also helps cool it in addition to being an effective and efficient way of watering the plants), it’s got a roof garden and other eco-conscious stuff. It combines modern construction techniques with classic Arabic art and architecture.

And his home is a cultural center.

He holds lectures, concerts and salons in his home, with guests and speakers from around the world. He’s founded multiple institutions to preserve Islamic history and architecture. He’s an activist against the extremist factions he says are trying to hijack Islam.

His home is going to be part of an international institute offering degrees in Islamic history and science, as his legacy, housing a collection of over one hundred thousands of his photos, drawings and writings about Islam and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

This is serious real-life Islamic solarpunk for real.

Tumblr likes the idea of solarpunk, even if there’s not a real body of work about it yet. Well, we’re missing that people are already doing this for real, and have been for a long time.

I am not generally an architecture fan. It’s nice and all, but it doesn’t do a lot for me, especially modern American stuff. But I am totally bowled over by this and must now go look at everything he’s ever designed."
solarpunk  2015  architecture  homes  samiangawi  saudiarabia  jeddah  lcproject  openstudioproject  art  achitecture  design  construction 
april 2015 by robertogreco
UC Berkeley professor designs bricks that could replace air-conditioning | DailyCal.org
"UC Berkeley associate professor of architecture Ronald Rael and former professor Virginia San Fratello succeeded in designing 3-D “cool bricks,” a device that could potentially replace air-conditioning systems in hot, arid climates.

Working with their team in Emerging Objects, co-founders Rael and San Fratello have developed porous ceramic bricks set in mortar. The bricks were inspired by a Mascatese cooling window — which consists of a wooden screen and ceramic vessel filled with water — that Rael encountered in one of his research trips.

“We look for ways of how traditional systems can be incorporated into contemporary lifestyles,” Rael said.

Rael was inspired to develop ways to create a water screen out of ceramic instead of wood so that it could be more applicable to current uses.

With the help of Tethon3D — a 3-D ceramic printing company based in Omaha, Nebraska — Rael further developed the right materials that could optimize evaporative cooling technology.

“We collaborated to make the design printable, as well as economical,” said Tethon3D co-founder and president Karen Linder in an email. Tethon3D made the cool bricks with a 3-D printer loaded with dry clay powder and a liquid binder in the shape of the desired model.

According to Rael, the brick is designed with a porous, lattice-like structure, which allows air to flow through it. The process is simple: Like a sponge, the bricks absorb water vapor, which evaporates when it makes contact with warm air. Warm air that passes through the micropores is cooled, ultimately decreasing the entire room temperature.

The cool bricks are not yet ready to be used commercially. The Emerging Objects team, however, is looking ahead toward commercial and humanitarian applications. With further developments, the bricks, which are able to interlock, can be stacked together to potentially create a wall or even an entire house.

Calling it a “less energy-intensive way to humidify air,” Rael said he envisions the bricks being implemented both near and far from home: in the southwestern deserts of the United States, in sub-Saharan Africa, in the Arabian Desert and even in parts of China.

Rael said questions still remain unsolved, however, such as where windows could be located to maximize the amount of air that passes through the bricks, where the water would come from and whether UV rays can be used to prevent mold from forming in the bricks.

The 3-D cool bricks can be seen at Data Clay: Digital Strategies for Parsing the Earth, a public exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design, until April 19."
2015  bricks  construction  energy  efficiency  sustainability  ronaldrael  virginiasanfratello  ceramics  insulation  cooling 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Minibuilders: Small robots printing big structures
"Large-scale 3D printing isn't a new technology, but past experiments have required massively intensive infrastructure. Minibuilders was conceptualized as a community of three modestly sized robots which were tasked with very specific jobs that aggregated to a large scale operation.

Each robot completes its programmed job in sequence to fully construct an automated, inhabitable structure. Ultimately Minibuilders shows the capacity for robotics to have a significant impact on the architecture discipline and industry."
3dprinting  construction  robots 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Want To Learn About Game Design? Go To Ikea - ReadWrite
"The path is constantly curving to keep you enticed."

[also posted at: http://killscreendaily.com/articles/game-design-ikea/
video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKCDJ89ODyM ]

"IKEA’s reach extends beyond simple economic heft. In Lauren Collins’ epic 2011 New Yorker profile of the company, she casts the IKEA vision as something that extends beyond pure commerce. “The invisible designer of domestic life, it not only reflects but also molds, in its ubiquity, our routines and our attitudes.” Our IKEA, ourselves, as it were.

But to become that successful requires a unique understanding of the consumer mindset and there are certainly many explanations for why this might be. I wanted to introduce something else. Intentionally or not, IKEA embodies some of the best values of good games. I’m not saying that IKEA is a game, per se, but it exhibits many game-like characteristics.

So how?

DESIGNING A GOOD MAZE …

BUILD A STORY WORLD THROUGH DETAILS …

"Because Ikea's founder is dyslexic, the company built a whole taxonomy for products to help him remember. Furniture is Swedish place names, chairs are men’s names, and children’s items are mammals and birds. (Lars Petrus’ Ikea dictionary reads like a key to reading Ulysses in this respect.)

The act of naming an object is an incredibly powerful key to immersion that games use all the time. Think about the names of the drones in BioShock or inventory descriptions in Dark Souls. Each of these games uses unique in-game language to build a convincing story world and keep you there.

For Ikea, they want you to identify with a place, in this case the Swedish concept of “folkhemmet,” a social democratic term coined by the Social Democratic Party leader Per Albin Hansson in 1928, that means “the people’s home.” And this identity is bolstered through numerous elements that want to capture a full-bodied Swedish identity, despite the global presence of the store. The colors are the Swedish national flag; the store sells traditional Swedish foods; the children’s play room is called Smaland as a nod to the founder’s hometown and so on.

As Ursula Lindqvist, an associate professor of Scandinavian studies at Adolphus Gustavus, writes, “The Ikea store is a space of acculturation, a living archive in which values and traits identified as distinctively Swedish are communicated to consumers worldwide through its Nordic-identified product lines, organized walking routes, and nationalistic narrative.”

But the language plays the largest part Ikea builds their retail universe, the same way that Borderlands doesn’t just call a pistol a pistol. It’s a Lacerator or The Dove or the Chiquito Amigo or Athena’s Wisdom. Ikea doesn't just sell you a coffee table; it sells you a Lack or a Lillbron or a Lovbaken.

As writers Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn said of their Significant Objects project, “It turns out that once you start increasing the emotional energy of inanimate objects, an unpredictable chain reaction is set off.""

ALLOW SHOPPERS TO CREATE THEIR OWN MEANING …

THE VALUE IS THAT YOU HAVE TO DO IT YOURSELF …

"But the value is that you have to do it yourself, which makes it more meaningful. Researchers found this is at the heart of “the Ikea effect” which suggests that people will value mass-produced items as much as artisan wares … if only they build them piece by frustrating piece. In their 2012 paper, “The Ikea Effect: When Labor Leads to Love,” Michael Norton and his team explain that the reason people love Ikea is a form of “effort justification.” You’ve put so much time into building Lack shelves that it has to be valuable."

DEVELOP UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCES

This is something we take for granted in games, but think about if you couldn’t play Tetris if you didn’t speak Russian or Super Mario Galaxy if you didn’t speak Japanese. Games are their own language and can be played by anyone, regardless of the nationality, location or background.

IKEA has a similar idea about decorating your home. They call it “democratic design.” As founder Ingvar Kamprad wrote, “Why do the most famous designers always fail to reach the majority of people with their ideas?” So IKEA tries to takes its designs to everyone in the world and designs products that ostensibly could fit in any living room from Shanghai to Berlin or Los Angeles.

This has obviously been a source of critique. Bill Moggridge, the director of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in New York, calls IKEA’s aesthetic “global functional minimalism.” He says “it’s modernist, and it’s very neutral in order to avoid local preferences.” IKEA flattens the experience of every home by selling the same furniture which, of course, benefits the company but also benefits the mission of the paradoxical non-profit that technically owns IKEA and is somehow dedicated to furthering the advancement of architecture and interior design.

Regardless, that impulse for world domination has a pleasant by-product in that creates a common design language for people around the world. It’s the same type of experience that Jenova Chen wanted to make in Journey. Chen argued to me that the language we use is a facade and that games like Journey can be played by anyone. One could argue is the same desire to explains the lack of words on IKEA’s instructions."
ikea  gamedesign  2014  games  gaming  jaminwarren  jenovachen  journey  design  videogames  effortjustification  dyslexia  names  naming  flow  objects  economics  effort  language  constructivism  construction  mastery  difficulty  ingvarkamprad  culture  acculturation  robwalker  joshuaglenn  billmoggridge  homoludens  significantobjects  ursulalindqvist  adolphusgustavus  universality  global  meaningmaking  michaelnorton 
december 2014 by robertogreco
IFTF: Artifact from the Future: Energy Wants To Be Free
"The UN has teamed up with the global Pirate Party, a political party with a platform of open intellectual property (IP), to provide new disaster relief kits that use open-source components to build ad hoc infrastructures for everything from power to water to Internet access. At the core of the relief kit is the now famous Tesla Box—a 10-foot shipping container that can power a neighborhood by harnessing the sub-atomic Casimir Effect. What else will you find in the open-source kit? Wireless lightbulbs, mobile device chargers, rechargeable desalination straws, and an Internet-in-a-suitcase."
pirateparty  iftf  speculativefiction  infrastructure  mesh  meshnetworks  enelctricity  robots  drones  construction  resilience  2013  solarpunk 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The Pantograph Punch — A House of One’s Own: Building The DOGBOX
"The three of us had met at Victoria University’s architecture school in Wellington, where we’d arrived from various parts of the North Island – Tim from Whangarei, Ben from Whanganui and me from rural Taranaki. Over the five years we spent studying together, we discovered that although our degree taught us about the process of building, there wasn’t much actual building involved. None at all, really.

This isn’t true of all architecture schools. There are some with incredible design-build programmes. One of the most well-known is The Rural Studio, where students work on projects in a low socioeconomic community – with that community – trying to battle the myth that good design is something for the wealthy. New Zealand’s best example is Unitec’s programme, simply because they incorporate some actual building into their degree.

That’s not to say that there’s no building at all at Victoria. The First Light House, which was entered into the Solar Decathlon competition in Washington in 2011, was a Victoria University project, involving a group of students from architecture, interior architecture and marketing. In this case, the house was prefabricated in a workshop in six modules and transported to Washington, where it was assembled in seven days.

But for most students that went through our school, you emerge knowing how a building goes together – in theory – but without any experience of the reality of that process. That’s true of the profession, too. An architect’s involvement in the building process is to monitor construction onsite and check that it’s coming together as designed and documented. That involvement gives you an understanding of building, but its’ a very different understanding from the one gained by physically building something – hence the stereotypically acrimonious relationship between builders and architects. Sure, there are architects that build. But they’re the exception."



"The house is not attempting to ‘speak’ of anything – it’s not a symbol or metaphor for something else, and we haven’t post-rationalised a conceptual starting point. The design began with those first objects, and expanded around a multitude of other intertwined concerns. We were concerned with efficiency – spatially, structurally, financially, and environmentally. We wanted to make the most of the sites features and work within its constraints. We wanted to create something comfortable and warm. We considered materials – as much as possible incorporating timbers that didn’t require chemical treatments or paint finishes, and would continue to smell beautiful throughout the life of the house. We thought about colour – and made a unanimous decision to avoid the boring beige and mushroom palette seen all too frequently. And of course, we thought about construction, knowing that we would be physically assembling this design.

We coined the term ‘agri-chic’ to describe the design. To summarise something with mixture of tough and refined elements. The practical and the beautiful.

It was also nice to have a phrase to offer up when asked if it was an ‘eco-bach’ – a term which has slipped into popular usage, and covers such a huge range of possibilities as to be almost meaningless."



"We learnt that tradesmen (I say tradesmen because they are mostly men) are incredibly knowledgeable, and only too happy to pass on that knowledge if you ask. Don, a local concrete placer, floated the concrete slab for us, and taught us a few tricks about working with concrete. It’s just like baking, he said – and then proved it with both neenish tarts and lolly cake. We had a plumber and an electrician who obligingly delivered boxes of supplies and gave us lessons in the basics of their trades. They would return to check on us, answer our questions, and take care of the tricky bits. Arbs, a welder who we found in Whanganui’s industrial zone whipping up playground equipment, helped us with our steel work. He let us take over his workshop and use his gear. He welded for us on the weekends.

Dan at the local mill turned our piles of Trade Me timber into floorboards and cladding. He found some Totara beams ‘lying around out the back’ for us when we jokingly asked if he had anything like that. Tony and the others in Mitre 10′s trade department, who started out thinking we were a strange curiousity, ‘boho-builders’, nonetheless took us seriously – tactfully checking we had things under control by phrasing their advice as questions.

It’s hard to convey how generous all of these people (and many others) were – with their time, their gear, their knowledge, and their patience with us. We might have been novice builders, but we were also demanding perfectionists, watching like hawks when other people were working with us on our project.

We learnt that building is just one thing after another. And all of those things slowly add up."
homes  newzealand  architecture  design  construction  sallyogle  building  accretion  whanganui 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Two Million Homes for Mexico – MAS CONTEXT
"Text and photographs by Livia Corona Benjamin

In 2000, Mexican presidential candidate Vicente Fox Quesada proposed an unprecedented plan to build two million low-income homes throughout the country during his six-year term. On the eve of his election, Fox proclaimed, “My presidency will be remembered as the era of public housing.” To enact this initiative, the federal government agency INFONAVIT ceded the construction of low-income housing to a small group of private real estate investors. Then, almost overnight, grids of 20 to 80,000 identical homes sprouted up, and they continue to spread in remote agrarian territories throughout the country. To encounter these developments by land, by air, or even via satellite imagery evokes a rare sensation. These are not the neighborhoods of a “Home Sweet Home” dream fulfilled, but are ubiquitous grids of ecological and social intervention on a scale and of consequences that are difficult to grasp. In these places, urbanization is reduced to the mere construction of housing. There are nearly no public amenities—such as schools, parks, and transportation systems. There are few commercial structures—such as banks and grocery stores. Yet demand for these low-income homes continues to increase and developers continue to provide them with extreme efficiency. During Fox’s six-year presidency, 2,350,000 homes were built, at a rate of 2,500 homes per day, and this trend is set to continue. During the past four years, I have been exploring these developments in Two Million Homes for Mexico. Through images, films, and interviews, I look for the space between promises and their fulfillment. In my photographs of multiple developments throughout the country, I consider the rapid redefinition of Mexican “small town” life and the sudden transformation of the Mexican ecological and social landscape. These urban developments mark a profound evolution in our way of inhabiting the world. In my work I seek to give form to their effect upon the experience of the individual. What exactly happens in these two million homes? How do they change over time? How are tens of thousands of lives played out against a confined, singular cultural backdrop?"
mexico  homes  housing  construction  liviacoronabenjamin  architecture  urbanism  photography 
april 2014 by robertogreco
viable solutions for the future of sustainable housing in cambodia
"in a collaboration among the NGOs, building trust international, habitat for humanity and karuna cambodia three sustainable housing projects have been completed on the outskirts of phnom penh in cambodia. the projects bring new life to communities and serve as viable options for construction and delivery for low income families in the area. in 2013, three international architecture firms were announced as joint winners in a competition that envisioned a better standard of living in this part of the world. the brief called for a $2000 house that could withstand flooding and offer a safe and secure environment. the different solutions gave families the chance to choose one that related to their specific lifestyle needs."
cambodia  architecture  housing  design  habitatforhumanity  buildingtrustinternational  karunacambodia  construction 
april 2014 by robertogreco
How a Chinese Company Built 10 Homes in 24 Hours - China Real Time Report - WSJ
"Chinese companies have been known to build major real-estate projects very quickly. Now, one company is taking it to a new extreme.

Suzhou-based construction-materials firm Winsun New Materials says it has built 10 200-square-meter homes using a gigantic 3-D printer that it spent 20 million yuan ($3.2 million) and 12 years developing.

Such 3-D printers have been around for several years and are commonly used to make models, prototypes, plane parts and even such small items as jewelry. The printing involves an additive process, where successive layers of material are stacked on top of one another to create a finished product.

Winsun’s 3-D printer is 6.6 meters (22 feet) tall, 10 meters wide and 150 meters long, the firm said, and the “ink” it uses is created from a combination of cement and glass fibers. In a nod to China’s green agenda, Winsun said in the future it plans to use scrap material left over from construction and mining sites to make its 3-D buildings.

Winsun says it estimates the cost of printing these homes is about half that of building them the traditional way. And although the technology seems efficient, it’s unlikely to be widely used to build homes any time soon because of regulatory hurdles, Mr. Chen said.

The Chinese firm isn’t the first to experiment with printing homes. Architects in Amsterdam are building a house with 13 rooms, with plans to print even the furniture. The Dutch architect in charge of the project said on the project’s website it would probably take less than three years to complete."

[See also: http://www.3ders.org/articles/20140414-new-photos-of-10-green-3d-printed-houses-in-shanghai-built-in-24-hours.html ]
construction  hosuing  concrete  3dprinting  2014  china  architecture 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Learning From Legos - NYTimes.com
"WHEN I was a boy, my father, an architect, attempted a no-toy policy, with the significant exception that he’d buy my brother and me almost anything — any birthday, holiday or restless rainy Saturday — as long as it was Lego.

And so, if I needed a gun, I made it with Legos. The same with a walkie-talkie. And a lie detector. And all the life-size artifacts — let’s face it, mostly weapons — that were then my heart’s desire. Plus every scale-model spaceship, supertruck, planetary fortress, recombinant Tyrannosaurus and transforming robot.

These days Lego — with its namesake movie’s opening weekend box office of $69 million, and with global sales revenue tripling, recession-proof, between 2007 and 2012 — appears to be something more than just a Danish construction toy based on snap-together plastic bricks. Some of the film’s success comes from the charm of its intrepid construction worker hero and goth-ninja heroine, both remarkably expressive despite the limitations of Lego figurines’ cylindrical heads and hands.

But the film’s celebration of adaptive improvisation and spontaneous mythmaking also resonates deeply with our current moment of so-called maker culture. Thanks to new rapid-prototyping technologies like computer numerical control milling and 3-D printing, we’ve seen a convergence between hacker and hipster, between high-tech coding and the low-tech artisanal craft behind everything from Etsy to Burning Man.

Whether it’s Google’s first server rack having been made of Lego-like bricks (pragmatically cheap, heat-resistant and reconfigurable) at Stanford in 1996, or the programmable Lego bricks developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Architecture Machine Group (later the Media Lab where, no coincidence, my father worked), Lego is literally built into the computational and architectural history of maker culture.

And it is, in a special way, an architectural history. “A small interior world of color and form now came within grasp of small fingers,” wrote Frank Lloyd Wright about his 9-year-old self in a 1943 autobiographical sketch. “These ‘Gifts’ came into the gray house” and “made something live here.” These were the famous Froebel Blocks, educational wooden building blocks in systematic shapes and sizes developed in the 1840s by Friedrich Froebel, the inventor of kindergarten.

“The smooth shapely maple blocks with which to build, the sense of which never afterward leaves the fingers; so form became feeling. These primary forms were the secret of all effects,” Wright recalled, “which were ever got into the architecture of the world.” Wright’s son John would complete the circle, inventing in 1916 the construction toy that came to be known as Lincoln Logs.

Architectural historians have sought origins for Wright’s innovative organic architecture — his long horizontals and pinwheel plans — in the geometries of his toys, even reconstructing his early house designs using the Froebel Blocks themselves.

I suspect that the connection isn’t that literal. But it is certainly primal, and visceral, to do with the idea of making and unmaking, and the complex relationships of parts to wholes, and brokenness to wholeness.

Once, detouring through a parking-lot flea market, I stumbled across some Froebel Blocks from Wright’s era, stacked as tightly and delicately as the dovetail joints of their original wooden box. Froebel Blocks are collectible antiques, but these were flea-market finds and not auctioneers’ goods because they had been methodically defaced by years of scribbled arabesques in Magic Marker, in a child’s hand.

I discovered that these lines traveled continuously from block to block, and that by carefully aligning the distinctly colored arcs and loops of the markings, I could reconstruct all the arrangements into which the blocks had been built — those magic marks the inadvertent blueprints for a forgotten memory palace.

I remember the fugue of that reconstruction, low on the ground below a flea market table. I remember the astonishing intimacy of visiting a stranger’s childhood, and how that intimacy somehow caused me to delay actually buying this treasure. I circled the flea market, and returned to find it gone.

Maker culture, like Lego, is about loss. All building-block toys are about appearance and disappearance, demolition and reconstruction. Maker culture, for all its love of stuff, is similarly a culture of resourcefulness in an era of economic scarcity: relentless in its iterative prototyping, its radically adaptive reuse of ready-made objects, its tendency to unmake one thing to make another — all in a new ecology of economy.

When my brother and I wanted a new toy, we cannibalized whatever we’d made before, which had been made of all the things we’d ever made before that. So of all those years of guns and starships, I have only that Wrightian feeling for form in the fingertips — and the sound, somewhere between rustling and clinking, of a thousand plastic pieces tumbling from an overturned bucket into a disorderly pile, rippling away from a seeking hand.

I remember the last thing I ever made of Lego, far later into adolescence than I should admit. It was a robot that, thanks to double-jointed hinges, could continually reconfigure itself without being disassembled. And in this sense it was anti-Lego, capable of being remade without being unmade. I knew that it was the most I could ever do in the medium, and the end of an era. It drifted back into that bucket.

A quarter-century later I saw the same bucket opened and overturned by a young nephew. And there, like a time traveler, was this same robot. Mostly just its legs, standing Ozymandias-like in a pile of bricks. I reached for it, but not faster than my nephew, who, recognizing an accretion of especially useful pieces, instantly dissolved it with his hands. One of Wright’s secrets of all effects must be this: Because nothing comes from nothing, and nothing goes entirely out of the world, you have to take things apart if you seek to put everything together."
2014  thomsdemonchaux  making  makerculture  resourcefulness  lego  invention  franklloydwright  froebelblocks  froebeltoys  building  construction  unmaking  dissolution  prototyping  adaptivereuse  reuse  scarcity  materials  toys  play  appearance  disappearance  reconstruction  ecology 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Freakonomics » Why Are Japanese Homes Disposable? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast
"In most countries, houses get more valuable over time. In Japan, a new buyer will often bulldoze the home. Why? That’s the question we try to answer in our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast, “Why Are Japanese Homes Disposable?” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript.)

Jiro Yoshida, a professor at Penn State University who specializes in real-estate economics, tells us that, per capita, there are nearly four times as many architects in Japan as in the U.S. (here’s data from the International Union of Architects), and more than twice as many construction workers. There is also a huge demand for new homes. When you put all those numbers together, it sounds like a pretty typical housing boom — and yet Japan has a shrinking population and a long-stagnant economy.

It turns out that half of all homes in Japan are demolished within 38 years — compared to 100 years in the U.S. There is virtually no market for pre-owned homes in Japan, and 60 percent of all homes were built after 1980. In Yoshida’s estimation, while land continues to hold value, physical homes become worthless within 30 years. Other studies have shown this to happen in as little as 15 years.

Does this make sense? Not according to Alastair Townsend, a British-American architect living in Japan, who is perplexed — and awestruck — by the housing scenario there:
TOWNSEND: The houses that are built today exceed the quality of just about any other country in the world, at least for timber buildings. So there’s really no reason that they should drop in value and be demolished.

In the podcast, we look into several factors that conspire to produce this strange scenario. They include: economics, culture, World War II, and seismic activity.

Richard Koo, chief economist at the Nomura Research Institute, has argued in a paper called “Obstacles to Affluence: Thoughts on Japanese Housing” that whatever the rationale behind the disposable-home situation, the outcome isn’t desirable:
KOO: And so you tear down the building, you build another one, then you tear down the building, and you keep on building another one, you’re not building wealth on top of wealth…And it’s a very poor investment. Compared to Americans or Europeans, or even other Asian countries where people are building wealth on top of wealth because your house is [a] capital good. And if you do a certain amount of maintenance you can expect to sell the house at a higher price. But in the Japanese case once you expect to sell it you expect to sell at a lower price 10 or 15 years later. And that’s no way to build an affluent society.

All that said, economists continue to debate whether a house is such a great investment in the U.S. One more burst bubble and maybe we’ll all start thinking about the Japanese model."
architecture  japan  economics  design  construction  disposable  disposability  richardkoo  housing  homes  alastairtownsend  jiroyoshido  2014 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Workyard Kit: Where Creativity Can Play | Live Playfully
"Wouldn’t it be sweet if you could build a something that would allow you to live on a cloud? Or a contraption that would “allow you to store memories and watch them whenever you wanted to relive them”? Or even build a dinosaur, a monster, and a what-cha-ma-call-it? The Workyard Kit is a children’s educational tool designed by Professor Cas Holman of the Rhode Island School of Design. The kit encourages a child to exercise his or her imagination by exploring a set of wooden planks, pulleys, bolts, ropes, and wheels. Raised in the foothills of the Sierras, Holman’s outdoor play involved the classic… sticks and mud. Understanding that city kids don’t often get that type of play, Holman premiered the Workyard Kit in 2011 at the High Line in New York City, saying that bringing the kit to the city “gave [the kids] control and let them build their own environment.

No instructions here, just the freedom to express oneself by connecting random things together. This isn’t your parents’ old school Lego and Barbie definition of play. A child can construct a Cadillac, fabricate a fishing boat, or develop a dune buggy. The kit truly gives children the freedom to create anything their minds can dream up, all the while allowing silliness, creativity, and fun exploring the possibilities.

The Workyard Kit is currently being tested in several pilot schools around the country where Holman hopes the kits will enhance STEAM education. STEAM education is an evolution of the growing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) educational program. The difference here is that STEAM includes Art… Hence the “A”. After all, how can you succeed in science, technology, engineering, or math without exercising your creative muscles? (Source: Adobe State of Create Study)
Currently set up in eight schools and two parks, the kits are available for families or the classroom. Prices range from $700 (with 51 parts) to $1,950 (253 parts), depending on how many kids are playing. If you’re curious about testing one out and live in the New York City area, check the High Line event calendar for kids programs here. Holman has said that she is in the process of rebranding and renaming the kit the “Rigamajig”, so watch out for an updated website. In 2005 Holman joined a New York City architecture firm to develop a similar concept using over-sized building blocks. Check it out here.

To learn more about the Workyard Kit, visit: http://workyardkit.com/

Curious about the designer behind this cool idea? Click here: http://www.casholman.com/”
classideas  children  construction  play  making  casholman  via:ablerism  2014  workyardkit 
february 2014 by robertogreco
hector zamora stacks mud brick lattice atop brazilian bikes
"subverting the traditional function of a bicycle, mexican artist héctor zamora uncovers the familiar object’s conceptual and metaphorical possibilities. best known for his architectural and public interventions that deconstruct the urban surroundings and raise questions for passing observers, ‘brasil’ reflects the local south american landscape, haphazardly stacked on something transient and portable, alluding to much of the country’s volatile building foundation. zamora’s sculptural works asks observers to reconsider the physical environment, paying acute attention to the probable implications of the constructed world we live in today. by reappropriating the physical characteristics, forcing the bike to maintain a stationary position, ‘brazil’ asks us how to define the terms architecture and art in a rapidly changing landscape. ‘brasil’ was recently exhibited at art basel miami beach 2013 for luciana brito galeria, são paulo."
art  hectorzamora  bikes  brazil  brasil  construction  architecture 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Architect Peter Zellner's Tijuana Experiment | San Diego | Artbound | KCET
""I went to Mexico trying to figure out how to work differently," he explains. "What I took back was learning to work on the fly and learning to improvise, not entering the discussion with preconceptions about the right solution, and sometimes not even showing up with -- this sounds horrible -- with finished construction drawings. Often we worked out things in the field, making the drawings on site."

This is how Zellner found himself in the field with the stonemason, sketching out a tile pattern for the marble shower. Details and material selections were more collaborative than up north. "Some days there wasn't a right answer," he continues, describing an almost artisanal process. "The question was: What materials are available today, for instance knowing what sort of marble we can source, how can we cut it? When you are working with people with 40 years of stone working experience, they're not scared to not know the answer that day. They worked it out on the spot. I learned something from that sort of approach.""

Zellner's shift from a professional paradigm toward a more ad hoc approach may seem anachronistic in an era when digital tools are defining the cutting edge of architecture and the act of building a has become almost a conservative byproduct. (He teaches at technological powerhouse SCI-Arc, after all.) A long history of artistic and architectural precedents underscores his philosophy. For instance, ZELLNERPLUS has no physical office -- it's a post-studio practice. The trappings of the professional atelier have been traded in for a laptop and mobile devices. Zellner cites minimalist sculptor Tony Smith, who phoned in his early 1960s sculptures as instructions to fabricators, as one inspiration for applying art world methodology to conventional architecture practice. And the influence of the L.A. School -- Gehry, of course, but also Morphosis, Studioworks, and Fredrick Fischer -- is there. Beginning in the late-seventies, those architects found experimentation in everyday materials combined with new formal expressions and spatial relationships.

"Experimentation now is understood as kind of the byproduct of toying with software and fabrication techniques, but I'm less interested in this rarefied concept," Zellner explains. "Today, the venues for experimentation are galleries and museums, books, the Internet, and the academy. However, my understanding is -- at least as far as subjective experimentation in Los Angeles from Schindler to the Case Study architects to the L.A. School goes -- that experimentation occurred at the bequest of the client and with all of the associated work and responsibilities. So there was the degree of possibility that things could and should go wrong. I think an experimental approach to making architecture has to account for and embrace the possibility of chance."

"At Casa Anaya, Zellner points out where experiments in poured concrete worked, where they didn't, and where a window was moved during construction. It's the language of details, of process, of labor. "I've always believed that architecture was bracketed by certain things -- and this sounds so banal -- a site, planning, context, the culture that you work within, a budget that you have to address." he says. "But in today's culture none of this makes architecture radical , right? That is at best a little short sighted but in the larger picture somewhat tragic. Many architects have abandoned an interest in the things that give architecture is power and relevance."

Zellner's approach is not a radicalization of architecture, but a deviation--an attempt to reactivate quotidian practice. By delving back into building, he questions the very notion of experimentation."

[See also: http://www.laimyours.com/52800/zellnerplus-casa-anaya/
http://archinect.com/firms/project/102848/casa-anaya/79381640
http://instagram.com/p/ZohFjMRvYx/
http://instagram.com/p/ZohBWoxvYo/
http://instagram.com/p/Zog6_8RvYg/ ]
tijuana  mexico  architecture  construction  peterzellner  mimizeiger  practice  2013  design  craft  collaboration  sciarc  experimentation  materials  casaanaya  california  losangeles  learning  flexibility 
november 2013 by robertogreco
The Guild
"In the beginning it was a welder, a wood buringin stove and fifteen hundred bucks.

FRANKLY, WE COULDN'T EVEN AFFORD A PROPER COMPUTER OR SAW. We picked up the phone and called everyone we knew and told them we could make stuff.

Some stuff turned into more stuff. More stuff turned into our first employee. Our first employee got a graphic novel book deal and left us which led us to our second employee. Don't worry Sarah, we still love you a ton and own all your books!

From there we have grown bit by painstaking bit. We work through the nights and ask the people who love us to understand that it won't always be like this. There are days we don't get to go home for days. We take comfort in a cup of strong coffee with a splash of pride in a job well done.

Our generous and creative clients give us opportunities to prove ourselves. They continue to believe in our good thoughts and hard work, and we continue to think well and work hard for them.

Today the Guild is a broad collection of artists, designers, architects, project managers, developers, carpenters and painters. We come together to lend our talents to making dynamic environments and unique experiences.

There are changes we would make if we had to do it again. The learning curve is sharp at times and the growing pains hurt like hell. In spite of proverbial skinned knees, we absolutely love what we do and are glad that it shows. "
design  theguild  losangeles  brooklyn  miami  making  environmentaldesign  projectmanagement  architecture  art  construction  portland  oregon 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Ashevillage | Sustainable Solutions in Action
"Ashevillage Institute is a nonprofit dedicated to sustainable solutions in action. We host educational programs with the goal of inspiring participants to walk their talk in their own backyards, neighborhoods, schools and cities."
asheville  northcarolina  permaculture  urbanfarming  education  naturalbuilding  construction  bees  sustainability  environment  natuarlbuildingschool  learning  food  community  workshops 
february 2013 by robertogreco
WikiHouse / Open Source Construction Set
"WikiHouse is not a single, finished product, but an open community project, the aim of which is to make it possible for anyone to design for anyone else. There is no fixed design 'team' or 'studio', but a steadily growing community of designers from all disciplines who share in common the belief that developing freely available house design solutions which are affordable, sustainable, and adaptive to differing needs is a worthwhile aim.

Anyone who is interested in, or already working on, problems around this area is invited to become a collaborator on WikiHouse, regardless of what background they approach it from. There is already a growing community of followers, supporters, contributors, and developers who are working to improve on this early experiment…"

[via: http://www.domusweb.it/en/architecture/wikihouse-open-source-housing-/ via http://www.domusweb.it/en/architecture/young-architects-in-action-1-architecture-00/ ]

[Version map: http://www.architecture00.net/blog/?p=2436 ]

[video: https://wikihouse.wpengine.com/wikihouse-4-0/
https://vimeo.com/105855301 ]

[See also: https://www.opendesk.cc/ ]
lcproject  projectideas  glvo  wikihouse  yogeshtaylor  jonisteiner  ruphinachoe  beatricegalilee  austencook  stevefisher  tav  jamesarthur  nickierodiaconou  alastairparvin  architecture00  00:/  indyjohar  furniture  construction  housing  homes  crowdsourcing  3d  cnc  diy  design  architecture  opensource  classideas  modularity  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
No Joke: These Guys Created A Machine For Printing Houses On The Moon | Co.Design: business + innovation + design
"First, you solve the material transport problem by making the moon base out of the moon itself. Second, you mitigate the "humans are expensive" problem by keeping them on the ground until the last minute--you use robots to build the base. Recently, USC Professors Behrokh Khoshnevis (Engineering), Anders Carlson (Architecture), Neil Leach (Architecture), and Madhu Thangavelu (Astronautics) completed their first research visualization for a system to do exactly that."
building  madhuthangavelu  bldgblog  neilleach  anderscarlson  behrokhkhoshnevis  houses  future  architecture  3dprinting  technology  fabbing  concrete  construction  timmaly  2012  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Portland Built: Design, Architecture, Art, Green, and Sustainable...a Portand Blog, made in Oregon
"Portland Built is a site dedicated to the great things being built in and around Portland, Oregon. We’re writing about smart development, sustainability, design, architecture, and the outstanding businesses and artisans of the region.

Portland Built is divided into three main focus areas: Products, Design+Build, and Partners."
design  architecture  sustainability  portland  oregon  cascadia  making  building  construction 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Canstruction
"Canstruction is using one can of food as a catalyst for change. One can to represent the building blocks of massive sculptures. One can to prove that every act of kindness makes a difference. Since 1992, Canstruction has contributed over 15 million pounds of food to community food banks demonstrating that we can win the fight against hunger."
design  art  architecture  activism  food  communityservice  csl  tcsnmy  fooddrives  building  construction  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
‪Teddy Cruz Presentation‬‏ - YouTube
"We can be the producers of new conceptions of citzenship in the reorganizing of resources and collaborations across jurisdictions and communities…We could be the designers of political process, of alternative economic frameworks."

[via: http://www.diygradschool.com/2010/06/professor-teddy-cruz-ucsd.html ]
teddycruz  cities  citizenship  sandiego  tijuana  watershed  conflict  borders  community  communities  militaryzones  military  environment  infromal  formal  collaboration  2009  housing  crisis  density  sprawl  natural  political  art  architecture  design  urban  urbanization  urbanism  recycling  openendedness  open  vernacular  systems  construction  economics  culture  pacificocean  exchanges  flow  landuse  neweconomies  micropolitics  microeconomies  local  scale  interventions  intervention  communitiesofpractice  crossborder  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
The Bucky-Gandhi Design Institution › The Tribike
"The Tribike is an attempt to create a “hexayurt for transport” – something minimally functional that can be made with common parts. The core idea is to use a tetrahedron as the basic form – the most minimal shape for enclosing space, and one of the strongest. Steel tube would be an obvious fabrication choice. A wheel is added at each corner.

Inside of the tetrahedron, a seat is suspended. It hangs inside of the frame, rather than being directly joined to it. For strength, the seat has multi-point attachments to the corners of the frame so that it cannot rotate in space or shift forwards or backwards. However, if the frame sustains a shock, flexibility in the steel frame and in the seat cables will cushion the impact. Clearly a seatbelt is required for riding in the tribike!"
bikes  make  making  diy  tribike  vinaygupta  transportation  buckminsterfuller  construction  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
Q&A: Cesar Harada on the Promise of an Open-Source Oil Skimming Robot - Environment - GOOD [See also: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cesarminoru/protei-open-hardware-oil-spill-cleaning-sailing-ro ]
"Cesar Harada is a Renaissance Man of the old school. But with some very new school skills. He's probably best described now as an open-source environmental engineer, but even a convoluted label like that doesn't do his work justice. Harada was a construction manager in Kenya for Ushahidi, the open-source crisis mapping organization (which we've covered), building their offices, but also building their network and some of their websites. Construction & engineering are in his half-Japanese, half-French blood. His father is a sculptor, & the Japanese side of his family has long worked in the structural engineering field, earthquake-proofing buildings.<br />
<br />
Harada got his first masters in animation film, & then another in design interaction. He's also a pretty accomplished glassblower and a TED Senior Fellow. These days, Harada is focusing on Protei, an open-source ocean skimming robot that he believes could revolutionize oil spill cleanup. (raising money for prototype on Kickstarter)"
cesarharada  renaissancemen  good  ted  tedfellows  environment  environmentalism  design  engineering  kenya  ushahidi  opensource  construction  glvo  animation  film  interactiondesign  protei  oilspills  cleanup  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
SHELTER on Vimeo
"Lloyd Kahn claims that shelter is more than a roof over your head. As the author and publisher of over a dozen books on home construction, Lloyd has been grappling with the concept of home, physically and psychically, for over five decades. Situated in the financial and housing crisis, this film profiles Lloyd's ideas on do-it-yourself construction and sustainability."
architecture  diy  houses  happiness  handmade  construction  design  documentary  building  community  craft  housing  glvo  lloydkahn  geodesicdomes  counterculture  shelter  sustainability  reuse  jasonsussberg  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Infrastructural Ecologies: Principles for Post-Industrial Public Works : Places: Design Observer
"In prioritizing private over public transportation and short-changing cleaner energy projects, ARRA has undercut the Obama administration's claim to support a green economy. Still more worrisome, unbalanced investments that favor the old over the new position us unfavorably in comparison to other industrialized nations, which are investing heavily in public transit and renewable energy. [4] Worse yet, they perpetuate America’s disproportionately high per-capita carbon dioxide emissions: approximately 20 metric tons to Europe’s 9 and India’s 1.07. [5] Ultimately, of course, ARRA was more stop-gap compromise than comprehensive vision — and no doubt the hard-fought result of tense partisan politics. Still, ARRA 2009 will be remembered as a tragically missed opportunity at a pivotal moment in national history."
hillarybrown  architecture  infrastructure  investment  urbanism  post-industrial  landscape  ecology  future  planning  barckobama  2009  arra  economics  policy  publicworks  construction  design  transportation  us  comparison  europe  missedopportunities  public  publictransit  emissions  sustainability  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
A City in the Cloud: Living PlanIT Redefines Cities as Software | Fast Company
"Living PlanIT (pronounced “planet”) is the brainchild of Steve Lewis and Malcolm Hutchinson, a pair of IT veterans who met when Lewis was still a top executive on the .NET team at Microsoft. Their ambition is twofold: to build a prototype smart, green city in Portugal that can be rolled out worldwide, and to drag the construction industry into the 21st century.

The latter may be the more audacious of the two. While plenty of companies have jumped on the smarter city bandwagon (as I’ve written about ad nauseum), no one has sought to make the construction business look more like the technology one."
architecture  urban  urbanism  cities  planning  technology  livingplanit  stevelewis  malcolmhutchinson  construction  portugal  green  density  sustainability  smartcities  via:cityofsound  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
High School Homebuilders Get More Than An Education : NPR
"The sports teams at Forest Grove High School are called the Vikings. And every year, some students build what they call a "Viking house" in the surrounding neighborhood. It's a real house that the school sells to raise money...
handson  projectbasedlearning  homes  housing  construction  tcsnmy  classideas  via:lukeneff  forestgrove  oregon  practicalknowledge  senseofacheivement  actualtangibleresults  make  making  do  doing  fundraising  homebuilding  shop  carpentry  pbl 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Why Not Print Buildings? — The Pop-Up City
"During our explorations in fresh developments in architecture we already found plenty of nifty projects, ideas and concepts that have the potential to totally reframe the production of the physical environment. Think of the facade printer, an invention that enables graphic designers to become architects. Or the rise of sustainable plastic as a structural building material. Via Blueprint Magazine we found out about the birth of a machine that is able to print entire buildings. The monster is located near Pisa, Italy, and its father is Enrico Dini, an engineer with a background in offline programming systems for six-axis robots."
enricodini  construction  architecture  buildings  fabbing  printing 
march 2010 by robertogreco
CIPER Chile » Blog Archive » Estas son las constructoras e inmobiliarias de los edificios más dañados en Santiago
"En todo Chile son miles las familias que han quedado a la intemperie. No todas pueden culpar a la naturaleza. Porque al horror que emergió con el terremoto y el posterior tsunami, no son pocos los que hoy deben agregar la ira por haber quedado sin casa a causa de una construcción con serias deficiencias. Tras una recopilación de datos en todas las comunas del Gran Santiago, CIPER confirmó en terreno 23 edificios residenciales con daños severos y que ponen en riesgo a sus moradores. La mayoría de estos inmuebles ya fueron evacuados y varios ya cuentan con decreto de inhabitabilidad. Mientras sus propietarios se preparan para una larga batalla legal contra los responsables de haber edificado y comercializado estos inmuebles con errores que expertos y los tribunales deberán dilucidar, CIPER presenta la nómina de las constructoras e inmobiliarias involucradas y los socios que participan en estas empresas."
2010  chile  santiago  construction 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Contributor - Santiago Stands Firm - NYTimes.com [see also: http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/2010/03/03/chicago_boys_and_the_chilean_earthquake_2/index.html]
"Saddened as I am by the loss of life and landmarks, I am scandalized by the few modern structures that crumbled, those spectacular exceptions you keep seeing on the TV news. The economic bonanza and development frenzy of the last decades have clearly allowed a degree of relaxation of the proud building standards of this country. That’s likely why some new urban highway overpasses, built by private companies with government concessions, are now rubble. It’s a sobering lesson for the neoliberalism favored for the past 35 years, and a huge economic and cultural setback for the country.
chile  architecture  sebastiangray  construction  integrity  2010  earthquakes  history  neoliberalism  economics  booms  buildings  buildingstandards  infrastructure 
march 2010 by robertogreco
encore heureux: babel kit
"while the tower of babel has over time manifested itself in many architectural variations, this simple cardboard structure made by encore heureux for cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine is aimed at children. it is a part of the micro architecture 'minimousse 4' competition whereby 13 architects were invited to create a cardboard hut for a child's room

'babel kit' is currently being shown at carton plein exibition and has also been featured at maison & object 2010."
cardboard  construction  towers  towerofbabel  children  play  architecture  design 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Contributors - Eight Ways to Rebuild Haiti - NYTimes.com
"When the immediate crisis passes, how can we ensure that Haiti becomes a functioning nation? Eight experts give their prescriptions." Concrete Solutions By JOHN McASLAN; Squatters’ Rights By ROBERT NEUWIRTH; Skip the Graft By JAMES DOBBINS; Learn From Postwar Tokyo By MATIAS ECHANOVE and RAHUL SRIVASTAVA; A Recovery Built on Water By STEVEN SOLOMON; Easy Money By DAN SENOR; Guantánamo to the Rescue By JONATHAN M. HANSEN; Keep the Economy Underground By SUDHIR VENKATESH
haiti  recovery  2010  rebuilding  development  policy  economics  construction  land  water  money  resources  health 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Mini-T by Maker Beam
"MakerBeam is a project to build a toy and tool for the open source imagination. Based on Mini-T, a new open source standard, MakerBeam will develop a construction toy for our times: open source precision hardware equally at home doing desktop fabrication or serving as a drawbridged castle for action figures."
toys  make  makings  opensource  fabbing  construction 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Border bunker battle
"On a windswept hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the remains of what constituted border security almost 70 years ago maintain an uneasy coexistence with present-day border fortifications.

Built into the ocean-facing side just a few yards from the aging metal fence that marks the U.S.-Mexico border are three concrete bunkers, the southernmost of a series of military installations built along the San Diego coastline during World War II to scan the horizon for invading Japanese ships and submarines.

U.S. soldiers spent cold days and nights in what was called the Mexican Border Fire Control Station, peering through telescopes at the ocean and sleeping on metal bunks, their supplies pulled up the steep hill on rails. If enemy ships were sighted, they were to report the news via underground telecommunications to troops manning long-range artillery at Point Loma."
borders  california  sandiego  military  construction  architecture  history  wwii  preservation  via:javierarbona 
august 2009 by robertogreco
scott javier: fingerprint pavillion
"the substructure consists of catenary derived ribs fabricated from a double thickness of spruce ply.
architecture  wood  glvo  structures  construction  make  plywood 
april 2009 by robertogreco
Who’s Afraid of ‘Slumdog’ (and in love with the slums)? - Part II « Javierest
"Sometimes it seems like the better they try to do, looking at informality with a liberal reformist zeal, the more they naturalize it, distancing it from its root causes. Small wonder that architects and planners interested in alleviating informality often treat it with the same lens of biomimicry as green architects looking at nature. Furthermore, it’s no surprise either that Slumdog Millionaire is faulted precisely for resisting the lure to “learn” from the slums."
javierarbona  culture  architecture  urbanism  cities  favelas  slums  poverty  construction  squatters  informal  productionofspace  elementalchile  teddycruz  improvisation 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Who’s Afraid of ‘Slumdog’ (and in love with the slums)? - Part I « Javierest
"What does “informality” do for architects and why do they get so turned on by it? To many architects and planners, when it comes to housing and entrepreneurship, nobody does it better than those who shoulder the worst burdens of poverty. It’s an extreme spectator sport, watching in awe—often just through the web, the Economist, or the movies—as people build out of fridges, scrap metal or whatever comes along. Not to deny the skill of these folks; hey, I wish I could build like that. But once again, what does this fetish really ‘do’ for architects, planners, and even artists? Is it that it challenges our notions (us Westerners, that is) of scale and time?"
javierarbona  culture  architecture  urbanism  cities  favelas  slums  poverty  construction  squatters  informal  productionofspace  improvisation 
march 2009 by robertogreco
A City Made of Waste
"Can the lessons hidden beneath these unofficial and precarious settlements be translated into alternative urban policies to redefine the conventional recipes of development in the official city? Producing more inclusive and sustainable land uses, new markets and economies from the ground up and within communities? I believe it is time for our institutions of representation, government and development to critically observe and translate the meaning of these invisible forces that are incrementally shaping the contemporary city.

It may be that the informal sector will become the basis for a new paradigm of environmental, social and economic sustainability."
tijuana  sandiego  urbanism  reuse  materials  construction  teddycruz  mexico  borders  urban  policy  sustainability  communities  environment  development 
february 2009 by robertogreco
How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand (Phil Gyford’s website)
"It’s taken me years to get round to buying and reading this book (and months to type the notes up), but it was worth the wait. It made me look at buildings and the building process differently, and I’ve had to re-evaluate what I think of as good design when it comes to architecture. The pictures (one or more on almost every page) are invaluable. Go read it."

[See also the videos: http://smashingtelly.com/2008/08/04/how-buildings-learn-uploaded-by-stewart-brand-himself/ (alternate link in the comments of Gyford's post) ]
stewartbrand  books  architecture  urbanism  planning  design  summary  buildings  community  place  workspace  offices  construction  schooldesign  philgyford  howbuildingslearn  2004  workspaces 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Biobloc
"Go to the discovery of the Bioblocs. In a few click your Biobloc learn alone how to walk, turn, run..."
games  evolution  robots  construction  3d  graphics  locomotion 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Designer Cities: The Development Of the Superstar Urban Plan - WSJ.com
"We are seeing an emergence of a new industry...It's not real-estate development; it's not architecture; it's not city planning. All I can do is name it 'the city-building industry.'"
cities  design  urban  urbanism  starchitects  architecture  construction  planning  trends  development  industry  capitalism 
july 2008 by robertogreco
PingMag MAKE - Call of the Wild Shipbuilder
"So why has this small band of local shipbuilders managed to spread their wings in a conquest of the construction world? This week we spoke to their ringleader, Kazushi Takahashi, to find out the answer."

Now here: http://www.pop.ignitiate.com/pdfs/The%20Wild%20Shipbuilder.pdf ]
architecture  shipbuilding  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  design  engineering  construction  steel  japan  tokyo  pingmag 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Urban Development: The Battle for the World's Skyline - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News
"A building frenzy is raging in Asia, Russia and on the Persian Gulf. And cities like London and New York don't have the money to compete. Will Western urban landscapes soon look outdated?"
architecture  china  europe  us  nyc  london  cities  growth  future  wealth  infrastructure  planning  construction  classideas  remkoolhaas  normanfoster  herzogdemeuron  russia  stevenholl  qatar  kazakhstan 
june 2008 by robertogreco
LEGO Universe
"homepage of LEGO Universe, the developing massive multiplayer online game (mmog) for LEGO lovers!"
games  gaming  interactive  lego  mmo  socialnetworking  toys  videogames  construction  building 
may 2008 by robertogreco
LEGO Universe Details | Rock, Paper, Shotgun
"This could be the first children’s MMO with mass appeal....will be a fully fledged LEGO building system in the game, and that users will even be able to order their creations and have the actual plastic kit delivered to their door…"
lego  MMO  play  games  glvo  children  videogames  gaming  creation  building  construction 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Make It, Moov It!
"Children aged between 5 and 12 won't tire of the MOOV. All the different parts available means that you can create your MOOV in endless varieties. They fit together in just the way you want."
diy  toys  make  construction  transportation  children  bikes 
april 2008 by robertogreco
roBlocks is a robot construction kit.
"By combining sensor, logic and actuator blocks, young kids can create simple reconfigurable robots that exhibit surprisingly complex behavior. roBlocks are self-describing, so they can provide helpful feedback to the user, and automatically adjust their
arduino  construction  robots  children  learning  electronics  via:russelldavies  gadgets  robotics  toys  education  hardware  diy  make  programming  elearning  coding  teaching 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Japan's property markets | Building wealth | Economist.com
"Houses in Japan are supposed to be built to withstand earthquakes. Even so, few of them defy demolition for more than a few decades. The housing stock is amazingly young: more than 60% built after 1980"
architecture  japan  housing  economics  construction  property  politics  law  via:cityofsound 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Aardvarchaeology : Ruins of Childhood
"next time you come upon abandoned treehouse site...you're standing in the ruins of someone's childhood...children who used site no longer exist: they're grownups now, living somewhere else, disposing more rationally of belongings"
archaeology  children  maps  treehouses  ruins  childhood  construction  glvo 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Inhabitat » VIDEO: Grow a Treehouse with Terreform
"As part of the ecological architecture nonprofit Terreform, Mitchell Joachim, Lara Greden, and Javier Arbona designed this living treehouse in which the dwelling itself merges with its environment and nourishes its inhabitants. Fab Tree Hab dissolves our
javierarbona  mitchelljoachim  terreform  architecture  design  environment  sustainability  construction  building  housing  green  technology  trees  video 
november 2007 by robertogreco
A fence without offense - Los Angeles Times
"Strong but not lethal, effective but not ugly: The U.S. is looking for a barrier along the border with Mexico that will say 'keep out' -- nicely."
borders  construction  immigration  us  mexico  architecture  design  migration  politics 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Incredible New Feats of Concrete
"Innovations in methods and ingredients have made possible lightweight bridges, color-changing buildings, and furniture created from this efficient material"
architecture  design  construction  material  concrete 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Re:Construction
"Re:Construction channels the energy of Downtown’s rebuilding process by recasting construction sites as ‘canvases’ for innovative public art and architecture."
art  installation  sculpture  urban  construction  architecture 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Technology Review: The Interoperation
"Architecture had given way to software management. So he turned buildings into construction programs."
brucesterling  scifi  sciencefiction  robotics  manufacturing  fiction  design  construction  architecture 
november 2007 by robertogreco
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