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Sunday, 19 October 2008 19:00

Past Weeks...

 


Built By Hand: Vernacular Buildings Around the World: A Book Review
Brian Liloia in Green Options
Imagine houses with six feet-thick seaweed roofs, deep-nestled and hand-carved cave homes, and pigeon-harboring huts made of mud. Sounds a little unreal, huh? Well, this and more is all vividly documented in Built By Hand: Vernacular Buildings Around the World, a most inspiring bit of green building eye candy I recently had the fortune of stumbling upon. Built by Hand is a hardcover collection of photographs of traditional buildings of all styles across the globe. If you weren’t already appalled by the house design atrocity known as the McMansion, Built By Hand will make you pine ever harder for more intimate, natural, sensible, and green home designs that can be found all over the world, still being built by indigenous peoples and sometimes mimicked by enterprising, modern day natural home builders.

Tiny Science, Big Implications
Julia Levitt in WorldChanging
Is there value in knowledge for the sake of knowledge? My gut says "of course," but when the question comes down to dollars and cents – and it does, in the case of funding for arts, science, and other often intangible cultural resources -- it's helpful to have a more practical argument on hand. I thought about this issue a lot last weekend, when I traveled to North America's epicenter of livable density to attend a sold-out screening at the Vancouver International Film Festival. The film was The Atom Smashers, a documentary about Illinois-based Fermilab and the international race to discover the Higgs boson. The film was produced by Chicago-based nonprofit 137 Films (COI: several members of the 137 team are good friends of mine).

Branding the boroughs
kosmograd in Kosmograd
Last week I popped along to the exhibition ' London's Towns' at the Building Centre in London. Subtitled "Shaping the Polycentric City", ( download catalogue here) the exhibition looked at developments proposed across the London boroughs, as each looks to assert an identity within the larger metropolis. It seems that every borough needs a masterplan these days. The focus of many boroughs' displays was to highlight their efforts to develop as a standalone 'hub': a retail, cultural and commercial centre that could resist the gravitational pull of Central London. Some, such as Greenwich, Croydon and Stratford see their future as a city within a city.

The Game
Geoff Manaugh in BLDGBLOG
A post earlier this week here on BLDGBLOG raised the question of whether or not an urban candidate might be inherently better suited for the job of U.S. president than a rural one – but what exactly do we mean when we say "urban"? When we read that the world is rapidly urbanizing, for instance, and that more than 50% of the earth's human population now lives in cities, what do we mean by "cities" and how can we tell when a dense assortment of buildings becomes a truly "urban" experience? What if we are surrounded by more buildings than ever before – but there isn't a single real city in sight?

Minor Landscapes and the Geography of American Political Campaigns
Geoff Manaugh in WorldChanging
If you'll excuse a quick bit of landscape-inspired political speculation, I was reminded this morning of something I read last year on Boing Boing and which has stuck with me ever since – and that's that there are more World of Warcraft players in the United States today than there are farmers. Farmers, however, as Boing Boing and the original blog post it links to are both quick to point out, are often portrayed in media polls as a voice of cultural and political authenticity in the United States. They are real Americans, the idea goes, a kind of quiet majority in the background that presidential candidates and media pundits would be foolish to overlook.

The Human Cause - part one
AMNP
Tim McKeough [a freelance writer on all things architecture, arts, culture & design] reports in the September 2008 issue of Metropolis on the CCV Chapel, by Brooklyn, NY based Stan Allen Architect. Project lead Carlos Arnaiz was a volunteer for the Chosen Children Village [CCV] Foundation while growing up in the Philippines. The foundation, which works with children with disabilities, is a non profit and reached out to Arnaiz once they found out one of their own was an architect.

China’s First Zero-Emissions Building
Evelyn Lee in Inhabitat
Situated in Ningbo, China, the University of Nottingham’s new Centre for Sustainable Energy Technologies (CSET) is a welcome addition to the landscape as well as the air above Zhejiang province. Inspired by Chinese lanterns and traditional wooden screens, Mario Cucinella Architects packed CSET with a variety of sustainable attributes to make it the the first zero-emissions building in China.

Corbusier's vertical hold on history
An exhibition celebrating Le Corbusier's visionary genius should help clear his name as the man 'responsible' for our Sixties council blocks
Stephen Bayley
The Observer, Sunday October 5 2008
The gloomy crypt is all that was finished of Edwin Lutyens' Catholic cathedral in Liverpool. Now, with dissonant irony, it houses a major exhibition of Le Corbusier. Why irony? Generally, because Lutyens was historicist and Corb was anti-sentiment, at least of the historic sort. Specifically, because Frederick Gibberd's 1967 cathedral now above Lutyens is a monument to what most people think they do not like about Corb: abrasive showboating in concrete.

Solyndra's Totally Tubular Solar Cells Perfect for Commercial Applications
Preston D K in Green Building Blog - Jetson Green
Solyndra just released new details of their proprietary solar technology printed with a copper, indium, gallium, and selenium (CIGS) mixture on glass tubes.  Solyndra also announced over $1.2 billion in orders and a successful installation using the cylindrical solar tubes on the roof of their corporate headquarters.  With the glass tube design and easy installation, the company expects to provide commercial customers with higher electricity output per rooftop and significantly reduced installation costs.  

Life Without The New York Museum of Arts and Design
Jimmy Stamp in Life Without Buildings
Life Without Buildings’ New York correspondent and Arts & Letters attaché Veronica Kavass stopped by the recently-renovated Museum of Arts and Design last week and sent over the following report.
Parting is such sweet sorrow—especially when it concerns the “lollipop building”, the Edward Durell Stone building on New York’s 2 Columbus Circle. The structure housed the Huntington Hartford Art Collection from 1964-2005, during which time many New Yorkers grew to reluctantly love its charmingly windowless, Venetian-meets-modern design. 


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Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2008 00:41
 
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