architecture · design · disease · environment · health · work

Architecture and the Airpocalypse | Architect Magazine

A smoggy Shanghai skyline

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.

read the whole article at via Architecture and the Airpocalypse | Architect Magazine |.

anthropology · architecture · behavior · community · creativity · culture · environment

The Playful City – Azure Magazine

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.

more via The Playful City – Azure Magazine.

architecture · community · creativity · design · environment · play

Dalston House: where every visitor becomes Spider-Man – video | Art and design | guardian.co.uk

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.

more at Dalston House: where every visitor becomes Spider-Man – video | Art and design | guardian.co.uk.

anthropology · architecture · design · happiness · health · play

superkilen urban park by BIG architects, topotek1 + superflex

Happy Friday! I hope you have plans to go out and play. I totally want to play here!

Superkilen

the “black square” at night

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.

more via superkilen urban park by BIG architects, topotek1 + superflex.

architecture · creativity · play

Fish-shaped Building Inaugurated in Hyderabad, India

The newly opened National Fisheries Development Board building in Hyderabad, India, designed to resemble a fish.

via Fish-shaped Building Inaugurated in Hyderabad, India.

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.

architecture · creativity · play

These Insane Houses Have Indoor Slides | i09

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.

more via These Insane Houses Have Indoor Slides.

architecture · behavior · creativity · design · environment

Soundscraper Transforms Vibrations from City Noise Pollution into Green Energy Soundscraper Generates Energy From Noise Pollution – Inhabitat

Cool idea, if perhaps a little, um, well, er, too organic?

Soundscraper Transforms Vibrations from City Noise Pollution into Green Energy Soundscraper Generates Energy From Noise Pollution – Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building
The concept for the Soundscraper is that it would generate energy from noise pollution.

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.

more via Soundscraper Transforms Vibrations from City Noise Pollution into Green Energy Soundscraper Generates Energy From Noise Pollution – Inhabitat.

architecture · creativity · culture · design · environment

Top stories in architecture from Inhabitat

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.

In honor of enriching spaces, I figured I’d share Inhabitat’s top six (why six? Not sure) architecture stories of the year:

2011 saw more exciting, innovative and record-breaking green buildingsthan ever before, and judging from the popularity of our eco architecture stories, many of you agree! From the world’s largest wooden structure in Seville to the world’s first vertical forest beginning construction in Milan, if you want to see some of the most mind-blowing designs that made waves this year, then check out 2011′s most popular stories below — and be sure to vote for your favorite!

Finca Bella Vista
Where do Ewoks go when they're bored with Endor? Why, to Finca Bellavista village of course.

 

Bosco Verticale

 

sunken pedestrian bridge in the netherlands parts moat waters like moses

See the other three and vote for them here: Top 6 Green Architecture Stories of 2011 – Vote for Your Favorite! | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World

architecture · design · disease · health

Designing and Building for Wellness

An overlay of two images: one of a river delta...
What does it mean to design with a person's wellness in mind? One architect has an idea. Image via Wikipedia

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.

Read her recommendations for building spaces that promote wellness at her blog post: architecture of wellness

 

architecture · design · Uncategorized

The Microbial Home

You’ve seen those glass containers sitting on people’s desks that are supposed to be self-sustaining mini ecosystems. What if you could create one in your own apartment, out of your own apartment?

The Microbial Home Probe project consists of a domestic ecosystem that challenges conventional design solutions to energy, cleaning, food preservation, lighting and human waste.

More at: The Microbial Home: A Philips Design Probe