A really fascinating read about improving air quality through design by architect Blaine Brownell:
During a study-abroad tour of China that I led in May and June through the University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture (read more about the trip here and here), one topic, aside from architecture, that my students and I discussed regularly was air pollution. Although we were in southern and central China, which are less affected than Beijing and other northern cities, we often found ourselves in a murky atmosphere. For three weeks, we rarely saw blue sky even on sunny days, and the air imparted a palpable thickness.
We checked the country’s Air Quality Index (AQI) daily via mobile app for the local forecast—especially after a bout of intense allergies sent me to a local pharmacist. This led us to question how we as architects and designers can counter such an ever-present problem.
Air pollution influences not only our physical health but also our experience of the built environment. Buildings and landscapes become soft and gritty, losing their clarity, sharpness, and color behind a veil of smog. The azure backdrop that is beloved in architectural representations is rarely witnessed. Rather, gray predominates, at times accompanied by brown. Despite this reality, blue sky persists in renderings of projects in China.
A great article about how building playful spaces leads to more, and better, play.
Can playgrounds make kids smarter? Yes, say the experts, and landscape architects everywhere are responding. Welcome to outdoor play’s new reality.
All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. Granted, Jack does not lack for innovative toys and gadgets. But what Jack really needs is better playgrounds. These days, reality is exchanged for a simulation of reality, and the sandbox is abandoned in pursuit of the virtual. Cognitive scientists, however, are finding that the unstructured activity children engage in at the playground fosters the social and intellectual abilities they need to succeed in life. Monkey bars and swing sets present opportunities to develop new skills, encourage autonomous thinking and promote flexible problem solving – but they also shape the brain. This is good news. With technology taking over so much of our lives, increased pressure on children to compete academically at a much younger age, and helicopter parenting restricting play for fear of potential danger, many experts – such as David Elkind, psychologist and author of The Hurried Child – are drawing attention to the “reinvention of childhood.” It is time we also reinvent the playground.
A Victorian terrace has popped up in east London that lets you swing from its ledges, run up its walls and generally defy gravity. Architecture critic Oliver Wainwright hangs loose at Dalston House, the novelty installation by Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich.
The artist talks about “enjoyable discovery” and playing with spaces that you might not otherwise think of.
I love how it is an interactive piece of art that only exists when people play with it.
Happy Friday! I hope you have plans to go out and play. I totally want to play here!
‘superkilen‘ is a kilometer long park situated through the nørrebro area just north of copenhagen’s city centre, considered one of the most ethnically diverse and socially challenged neighborhoods in the danish capital as it is home to more than 60 nationalities. the large-scale project comes as a result of an invited competition initiated by the city of copenhagen and the realdania foundation as a means of creating an urban space with a strong identity on a local and global scale.
I like the playfulness of the Fisheries team, at least. And it’s actually clever advertising to boot. Hopefully they won’t want to move for a few years, since I’m not sure who else might need a fish-shaped building. But it sure is a fun thing to see as you walk into work everyday.
Sometimes it’s nice to add a little play into a normally quiet, serene space like the home.
Whether you’re a superhero or still reliving your childhood, an indoor slide is obviously the best way to get from one floor to the other in your home. Here are some houses that turn slides into amazing works of art — and stairway replacements.
Cool idea, if perhaps a little, um, well, er, too organic?
The Soundscraper is a futuristic structure designed to transform auditory vibrations from bustling cities into a source of clean energy. Designed by Julien Bourgeois, Olivier Colliez, Savinien de Pizzol, Cedric Dounval and Romain Grouselle, the Soundscraper is covered with noise-sensitive cilia that harvest kinetic energy while soaking up urban noise pollution.
Happy New Year! This has been a pretty crazy year for me. One of change, growth, more change, more growth… but hopefully all of it has paid off to create a better, more enriching space for me both at work and at home.
Great blog post from The Patron Saint of Architecture about what it means for her to be an architect and build and design things for people’s overall health and wellness:
As architects, we seek to inspire those who move through the environments we create. It’s also our job to understand how the space will be used and create elements that support that use. The last leg of the stool, a part we often overlook, is the need to make buildings that support wellness. Even architects who design healthcare buildings often forget about this one as they work to meet many other challenges related to budget, program, operational and code requirements. Maybe it’s because wellness is such a slippery term. Much like the term “green,” “wellness” is often bandied about, a buzzword that makes some aspect of a product, design or organization sound like it’s good for us. So how do we know if it really is- much less translate that into design elements? I have been thinking about this issue for a while and even found an interesting website devoted to defining wellness complete with helpful questionnaires.
I’ve come to the conclusion that true wellness is multidimensional and positively impacts our physical, mental and social state of being. With that in mind, I have also observed that, as a profession, we kind of, sort of, dip our toe in the waters of designing for wellness. We embrace sustainable building standards, evidence-based design, lean design, even socially conscious strategies. However, these are just quantifiers. Building blocks of the wellness leg of the architecture stool, but not enough as stand-alones. True architecture of wellness must incorporate all of these measures, but spring from a much deeper intent.