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Date: Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014 15:27
Here are some photos of Brion Cemetery (19072) in San Vito d'Altivole, Italy, by Carlos Scarpa, photographed by Francesco Maria Gabriele Vozza.

Carlo Scarpa - Tomba Brion

Carlo Scarpa - Tomba Brion

Carlo Scarpa - Tomba Brion

Carlo Scarpa - Tomba Brion

Carlo Scarpa - Tomba Brion

Carlo Scarpa - Tomba Brion

Carlo Scarpa - Tomba Brion

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Author: "John Hill (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "today's archidose"
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Date: Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014 15:24
Here are some photos of Råå Day Care Center (2013) in Helsingborg, Sweden, by Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter, photographed by Matthew Gribben.









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Date: Monday, 25 Aug 2014 15:00
"Book Briefs" are an ongoing series of posts with short first-hand descriptions of some of the numerous books that make their way into my library. These briefs are not full-blown reviews, but they are a way to share more books worthy of attention than can find their way into reviews on my daily or weekly pages. In this post are six titles published by the University of Minnesota Press.



1: Architecture since 1400 by Kathleen James-Chakraborty | 2013 | Amazon
Instead of the traditional discussion of style and analysis of space, the author aims "to reconstruct the story of how environments are created that shape experience and communicate identity through the ways in which spaces are formed and surfaces are decorated." The examples in the book, which moves chronologically and geographically from front to back (starting in China in the early 1400s and ending in the same country in present day), are diverse in terms of place (Asia and South America are afforded as much importance as Europe and North America, though Africa is the focus of only one of the thirty chapters) and architect/builder (encompassing more buildings than those designed by well known architects), making it an atypical history of architecture when compared to Sir Banister Fletcher, Trachtenberg and Hyman, and other standard textbook histories. The bite-sized chapters – thirty of them across 488 pages, or an average of 16 illustrated pages per chapter – make the book a handy reference when students and architects want to get a different perspective on buildings in a particular place and time. Further, references at the end of each chapter give the reader good places to go for more depth than what James-Chakraborty's book allows.

2: City Choreographer: Lawrence Halprin in Urban Renewal America by Alison Bick Hirsch | 2014 | Amazon
I've never been a fan of the phrase, "You can't judge a book by it's cover." Sure, you can't pass judgment on a book entirely based on its cover, but there are certain telling things that covers convey, particularly some architecture books. This book's cover has two illustrations: a photo of activity in Cascade Fountain in Seattle's Freeway Park designed by Lawrence Halprin, and a score by Halprin for a performance, most likely for his wife Anna. These two images, as the title of the book hints, have a strong relationship, as the design of Halprin's public spaces, like Freeway Park, were informed by a creative process called the RSVP Cyles (Resources, Score, Valuation, Performance) that Halprin developed in the 1960s. Hirsch, in a book based on her doctoral dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania, analyzes Halprin's methods for designing public spaces with people's actions in mind, an approach that designers should pay attention to today.

3: The Folklore of the Freeway: Race and Revolt in the Modernist City by Eric Avila | 2014 | Amazon
"When the interstate highway program connected America's cities, it also divided them, cutting through and destroying countless communities." So says the back-cover description of this book, which brings to mind the way the Dan Ryan Expressway on Chicago's South Side separated the former Robert Taylor Homes from the neighborhood of Bridgeport, the home of Richard J. Daley, the Mayor of Chicago when both the expressway and public housing were constructed in the 1960s. In this case the expressway didn't destroy Bridgeport (as planned it would have, but it was rerouted eight blocks to the east) but it severed the white and black neighborhoods from each other. This particular example is not part of Avila's book, since the associate professor of history, Chicano studies, and urban planning at UCLA focuses on Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and other cities where people have protested the damage wrought by highways.



4: Mechanization Takes Command: A Contribution to Anonymous History by Sigfried Giedeon | 2013 | Amazon
Sigfried Giedion wrote one of the most influential books on architecture last century, Space, Time and Architecture, released in 1941 and now in its fifth edition. If one masterpiece in his lifetime was not enough, Giedion also wrote this masterful volume seven years later on the "anonymous history" of mechanization taking hold of just about every aspect of our lives. Having covered architecture in the earlier book, here he tracks the changes in the food we eat, the chairs we sit on, the rooms we bathe in, and even the locks that secure our homes. As much a product of its time as Space, Time and Architecture, Mechanization Takes Command is, as Stanislaus von Moos states in the postscript to the 2013 printing of the 1948 book, equal parts "factographic" historical account and manifesto. I prefer to read it in the former sense, since the balance of textual and visual evidence paints a clear picture of technology's advance, even as the unbiased nature of Giedion's writing comes through from time to time. It does make me wonder if a similar "anonymous history" could be done on the computer age, on the influence of the digital in similar areas of our life. Perhaps somebody's done that and I'm not aware; if not, Giedion's reprinted book is a wake-up call for somebody to dive in.

5: The Modern Architectural Landscape by Caroline Constant | 2012 | Amazon
In the sphere of modernity, there's an inclination to partition work and expression into disciplines. Buildings are the purview of architects, for example, and the land around a building is taken care of by the landscape architect. Such a distinction is prevalent today, but this book's analysis of nine landscapes designed by architects puts a wrinkle in this partitioning by focusing on the totalizing nature of modernism to create cohesive environments, buildings and landscapes combined. Inside are the Barcelona Pavilion and Lafayette Park, both the product of Mies van der Rohe, the Woodland Cemetery of Asplund and Lewerentz, Jože Plečnik's Prague Castle, Le Corbusier's Chandigarh, and OMA's unbuilt Parc de la Villette submission, among others.

6: Pedestrian Modern: Shopping and American Architecture, 1925–1956 by David Smiley | 2013 | Amazon
Southdale Center, designed by Victor Gruen and known as the first fully enclosed, climate-controlled shopping mall in the United States, opened in Edina, Minnesota, in 1956. Gruen and his influence on the shopping mall and the suburbs after World War II is well documented, but what about the architecture of shopping centers pre-Southdale? Such is the subject of Columbia University professor David Smiley's thorough and thoroughly illustrated book, which tackles the years 1925 to 1956. The history is told in six chapters that are thematic rather than chronological, with "Park and Shop" in chapter three and "The Language of Modern Shopping" in chapter six, for example. The previous ignorance of early 20th-century shopping centers from architectural study is hinted in the title, as "pedestrian" refers not only to shoppers on foot (and the environments architects created for them) but also to the relegation of shopping centers to "secondary, pedestrian status" as the back cover attests. This book shows that the latter is far from the truth, and shopping centers are as much about modern architecture as housing, office buildings, and other traditional building types of interest.
Author: "John Hill (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "book-briefs"
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Date: Sunday, 24 Aug 2014 11:13
Author: "John Hill (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "architecture misquote"
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Date: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 12:31
Since starting the "Today's archidose" feature in 2006, when I asked readers to contribute photos of contemporary via Flickr for consideration on this blog, I've done 777 posts. Given that Flickr isn't the primary means for people to share photos online, I've decided (somewhat well after the fact) to open the Today's archidose feature to Instagram.

It basically works the same way as the Flickr instructions, but instead of joining a group, just tag your Instagram photos #archidose (I'd link to the tag here, but Instagram only allows clicking on tags that through their app) and I'll dig through them as I consider what to post. It helps that a number of proactive Instagram users have already been using the #archidose tag.

To start, here is one of my photos, of SOM's One World Trade Center as seen from West Street:


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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 18:00
Building as Ornament by Michiel van Raaij
nai010 Publishers, 2014
Paperback, 240 pages



Before he took the helm at Dutch website Architectenweb, Michiel van Raaij penned one of my favorite architecture blogs, Eikongraphia (Iconography), which looked at buildings united through their resemblance to other things, things outside architecture. Projects, many not yet built at the time, were given a title that made it clear what sort of building-size iconography was in place: Gherkin, by Foster and Rocks, by Mazzanti, to name just a couple of the built projects. Michiel's comments were always in-depth and insightful, but much of the fun was in seeing the sheer number buildings being designed in such a way.

That was 5 or 7 years ago (the posts stopped in the middle of 2010), and today the prevalence of what Michiel calls "building as ornament" is much more widespread. It's hard to go a week without seeing a just completed building or just unveiled project on Arch Daily that resembles this symbol or that animal or this fruit or whatever the case may be. Michiel actually contends that we are witnessing the second generation of iconographic buildings, which are more nuanced than the attention-getting iconographic buildings of the first generation that he was covering on his blog.

While the trend of building as ornament can be grasped by many people, there is a good deal of disagreement over whether these second-generation icons are good or bad. Michiel sees them as unavoidable, not going away anytime soon. Therefore, he argues, architects should be deliberate and careful with how they design buildings as large-scale communication devices. Enter the interviews, which enable him to discuss the intentions of designing recognizable icons with eight prominent architects and two historians. There's Auke van der Woud, Denise Scott Brown, and Charles Jencks in the "iconographic detail" section; Adriaan Geuze, Michiel Riedijk, Alejandro Zaero-Polo, and Ben van Berkel in the "layered iconography" section; and Steven Holl, Winy Maas, and Bjarke Ingels in the "singular iconography" section. The interviews are bookended by two projects sections with numerous renderings and photographs of designs by other architects, and interspersed with two collage sections, one on "alphabet" buildings and one on "island" projects.

Occasionally in the interviews Michiel is met with resistance by the architects, ones who don't want to be known for designing "buildings that look like X or Y." While the author is able to clarify his intentions and then eke out some insight from his subjects, the end the chapter with Winy Maas's interview is telling of the precariousness of "building as ornament." It shows the reader MVRDV's controversial design for The Clould in Seoul from 2011, when comparisons to the destruction of the Twin Towers spread like crazy through the media, although the architects denied any intention as such (Michiel's interview happened before the design was released, and not surprisingly MVRDV did not return the author's later requests for comment). The design is a lesson in regards to the precariousness of iconography and confusion of messages across cultures; it certainly points to more nuanced design moving forward, along the lines of what Michiel is calling for.

Are we witnessing the end of icons or just a hiccup toward something else? Or to put it another way, is this book a snapshot of a brief period or a polemic for the evolution of icons? We will know in the coming years, as the answer lies with the architects (many in the book) that are fulfilling the wishes of clients around the world for buildings that stand out and get attention.

Purchase at Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com
Author: "John Hill (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "book-review"
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 13:12
Here are a couple photos of Emerson College Los Angeles (2014) by Morphosis Architects, photographed by Riley Snelling.

Emerson College

2742

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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 14:19
While I haven't paid close attention to the fight to save John M. Johansen's Mummers Theater* in Oklahoma City, I'm disheartened to see this photo taken by Timothy Hursley last week of the one-of-a-kind building's demolition:


[Click image for larger view | Photo: Timothy Hursley]

One year before, Hursley visited the building with his sons:

[Click image for larger view | Photo: Timothy Hursley]

*Those interested, albeit at this admittedly late stage, should visit the Save the Stage Center Facebook page and The Architect's Newspaper's extensive coverage of Mummers and what will replace it.

(Thanks to Tim Hursley for sending along the photos.)
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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 12:41
The first installment in Al Jazeera's six-part "Rebel Architecture" series is on Spanish "self-build legend" Santiago Cirugeda:

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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 16:36
Here are some photos of Farmville, under consruction in Paredes, Portugal, by AND-RÉ, photographed by José Carlos Melo Dias.

Paredes, Incubadora de empresas. AND-RÉ

Paredes, Incubadora de empresas. AND-RÉ

Paredes, Incubadora de empresas. AND-RÉ

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Date: Sunday, 17 Aug 2014 17:00
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Date: Sunday, 17 Aug 2014 16:02
Book Mountain Spijkenisse: Biography of a Building by Nicoline Baartman, Winy Maas
MVRDV/nai010 Publishers, 2013
Hardcover, 260 pages



Book-length case studies of buildings are great for giving more space than a monograph or magazine in explaining the history, design, realization, and in some cases post-occupancy of a particular building. But this type of book begs the question: Who writes it and who is it for? The first could be the architect (the most common), or perhaps the client, or even a freelance writer commissioned by one, both, or neither. And in most cases the answer to the second is "other architects." The answer to the first for this "biography" of MVRDV's Book Mountain in Spijkenisse, the Netherlands, is "all of the above"; and for the second it is "everybody."

MVRDV Boekenberg
[Photo: Jonas Klock/Flickr]

The library is part of a district in the admittedly unexceptional town of Spijkenisse near Rotterdam, which also includes residences designed by MVRDV (photo above). The project's evolution from a library into something larger is explained in the book, as is the history of the town, something that the hip-roofed form of the library taps into. What is most interesting about the book is that the story of the library is told in three intertwining ways:

1 - A narrative by journalist Nicoline Baartman,
2 - A photographic essay by Marcel Veldman,
3 - And a pictorial documentation by the architects.

Further, #1 and #3 occupy two sides of the same pages, as MVRDV's contribution is found entirely within gatefolds, in the vein of Diller Scofidio + Renfro's large book on Lincoln Center. Therefore one can read Baartman's text without ever encountering MVRDV's visual essay. Veldman's photos, on the other hand, happen in five spots spaced throughout the book on glossy b/w pages; they are hard to miss.

MVRDV Boekenberg
[Photo: Jonas Klock/Flickr]

The contributions are three ways of telling roughly the same story: painting a picture of the town and its people, describing the building, and speculating on the place's future now that it has this special library. The book therefore is greater than the sum of these parts, at least when readers take the time to read each piece or parts of each piece. Sure, there is some overlap in terms of what is learned, but these areas point to what is important, what it is about the place and the building that the architects and Baartman felt the need to discuss. As can be expected, I found myself focusing on certain parts and skimming others for both; MVRDV's visual history of the place does a great job of explaining Spijkenisse, as do Baartman's interviews with residents, particularly the ones she talked to inside the library.

MVRDV Boekenberg
[Photo: Jonas Klock/Flickr]

This experiment of sorts for telling multiple stories about a building is not the only one for MVRDV; they also created a "biography" of the Glass Farm, a similar forward-thinking/vernacular-formed building in Holland. Like the buildings themselves, the books have a strong public component, in that they strive to make architecture understood by a larger audience (the forms, and in the case of the Glass farm the graphics, make modern architecture easier to digest). I'm all for broadening architectural appreciation, without dumbing things down of course. Book Mountain Spijkenisse is commendable in this regard, and I hope other architects and publishers take note.

MVRDV Boekenberg
[Photo: Jonas Klock/Flickr]

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Author: "John Hill (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "book-review"
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Date: Saturday, 16 Aug 2014 17:00
Author: "John Hill (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "architecture misquote"
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Date: Saturday, 16 Aug 2014 16:56
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Date: Thursday, 14 Aug 2014 16:39
It seems like it was just yesterday that Harvard Design Magazine (HDM) reinvented itself. Yet taking a look at their back issues makes me realize that the last reinvention took place five years ago. Now starting with its Spring/Summer 2014 issue, HDM has been "reconceived and relaunched with a new editorial and design approach," under the direction of Editor in Chief Jennifer Sigler. 



Sigler says in her editorial intro (spread below) to the issue, which was handed out at the vernissage for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale (where I snagged a copy), that the magazine's new direction "invites 'reading' across disciplinary boundaries, and stakes out an expanded arena for architecture and design dialogue." These are boastful words that might ring hollow in today's saturated digital/print marketplace for architectural writing, except I must admit that I really like the new direction.



The issue's theme is "Do You Read Me?", a play on the phrase in radio communications "do you hear me?", and it's certainly a good question to ask. At its most basic, it asks the reader if he or she actually delves into the words or if they just look at the pictures. Furthermore, if they do read an essay, are readers getting the intended meaning? Or are they misreading the articles, yet still gaining something useful out of them, such as new ways of thinking about or looking at things?



In terms of what the issue makes me want to actually read, a combination of factors come into play: the length of the article (they range from one page to 14 pages); the size of the font (many of the pieces are in large fonts, much like many websites are rendered in the same for mobile devices, making them appear quite large on laptops and other computers); the page design (beyond the layout of images and text, the issue incorporates special, small-size, glossy inserts for four pieces, as seen in the bottom spread); and of course subject (more on that below).



Subject-wise, there's a lot of interesting things to be found in essays and interviews that expand upon what the editorial theme might actually mean: an interview with Peter Galison about "the architecture of air"; Jeffrey T. Schnapp's essay (spread above) on libraries as "warehouses of thoughts and things"; a long piece by Sanford Kwinter (I'm planning to read that on the train ride home this evening); Daniel Rauchwerger and Noam Dvir's piece on comparative analysis of "national libraries as knowledge icons"; K. Michael Hays and Peggy Kamuf's rereading of Jacques Derrida's "Point de folie – maintenant l'architecture," a 1986 essay on Bernard Tschumi's Parc de la Villette; and many more, as these are just a few among many. Yes, this is Harvard GSD, so the texts are scholarly, but nevertheless there is an effort to make things more accessible given the various contributors, lengths of article, design and so forth. Oh, and there's even a crossword puzzle on the last page.

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Date: Thursday, 14 Aug 2014 13:40
The other day I was wondering what Sean Eden, former guitarist with Luna, was up to. Turns out he splits his time between a number of bands (including Elk City, another band I like), sound design for video games, voice-overs, and music composition for films and other moving pictures. In regards to the last, it was interesting to discover that he scored part of Building a Dream, a half-hour film directed by Ultan Guilfoyle on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Per Eden on his website:
Ultan hired me to do some of the music for the project when the film was already deep into the editing phase and nearing its completion deadline. We recorded and mixed several guitar-based atmospheric tracks in one marathon session, and this particular one was used for the opening sequence, which features some breathtaking shots of the building and its surroundings, and a voice-over by Frank Gehry himself, telling the story of how he came to decide on where exactly to build it.
Here is the 2-minute clip with some of Eden's bendy and reverb-y guitar playing:

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Date: Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 17:30
Instead of particular buildings, here are some urban vistas grabbed from the archidose Flickr pool.

Barcode project (Oslo), photographed by Wojtek Gurak:
Barcode Project

La Défense (Paris), photographed by Arno Dumont:
La Défense - Hauts de Seine

Emilli Plater Street (Warsaw), photographed by Krzewi:
Emilli Plater street

Financial District (Dubai), photographed by Andrew A. Shenouda:
Touch the sky

Potsdamer Platz (Berlin), photographed by Gonzalo Mauleón:
POTSDAMER PLATZ

Chicago (seen from Lincoln Park), photographed by clarkmaxwell:
chicago skyline.

Hong Kong, photographed by Fernando Herrera:
Bank of China and Others

Danzig, photographed by krzewi:
Tkacka / Długa street in Danzig

To contribute your Flickr images for consideration, just:
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Author: "John Hill (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "today's archidose"
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Date: Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 17:43
In my review of Leftunder Rightunder I mention the book's designer, Jerome Daksiewicz, and visiting his site, NOMO, I came across his series of Golf Course Screenprints that include some of my favorite courses I've never had the chance of playing:

Augusta National:


Pebble Beach:


Pine Valley:


Having wanted to be a golf course designer myself back in the days before college (I got so far as designing a course on paper, but not one for a real place), these and other courses are the ones I studied and continue to appreciate from a distance. It's always great to come across other designers with similar interests.

NOMO has the above and more courses as posters for sale in their online shop.
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Date: Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 16:04
Leftover Rightunder: Finding Architectural Potential in Found Materials by Wes Janz
Half Letter Press, 2013
Paperback, 96 pages



I've often written that small things don't necessarily equate with small impacts, be it buildings or other projects. It's the ideas embedded within a design that are important, not necessarily their physical size or visibility. The work of Wes Janz certainly fits within this statement, given his predilection for small projects (heck, his studio is even called onesmallproject), as well as the fact Leftover Rightunder is a compact expression of his various studies, installations and buildings that are focused on "finding architectural potential in found materials."

CMU: Green Springs
[Green Springs | Photo: Wes Janz]

Flipping through the book is like rummaging through the mind of Janz, a professor at Ball State University in Indiana. The book starts with the "leftover lexicon," a collection of terms (some of them defined, most of them not) that offer "a more useful vocabulary" from the normal way of thinking about architecture. But the list of terms gives way to photos of dumpsters, "small architectures" and other found objects, only to pick up later in the book, interspersed with student projects, installations, an essay, more found objects, and a garage built almost entirely from pallets (more on that later). The book bounces all over the place, but somehow it works. Kudos should go to book designer Jerome Daksiewicz, who took Janz's voluminous photographic documentation (over 9,000 photos on Flickr!) and distilled it into a readable book that really stresses the huge amount of waste in the United States that could be put to good use.

Arbor 52
[Arbor in Indianapolis | Photo: Wes Janz]

But what to do with an old couch? Or a mattress? Or pallets? These are the three main sources of material for Janz and his students. One of the most impressive projects in the book is Green Springs, an exhibition at the Sheldon Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, where designer Azin Valy and fabricator Brian McCutcheon worked with Janz to fashion trellises for plants from old bed springs. Other projects include an arbor made from branches downed by storms and materials from Janz's late parents' house, resulting in a construction "of memory and love."

Day 4
[Timber Pallet Workshop | Photo: Wes Janz]

About one-half of the book is devoted to pallets, which makes sense given their ubiquitousness, orthogonal shape and materiality; they are much easier to transform into architecture than couches and mattresses. Janz worked with students to fashion pavilions made from pallets, but then he designed a garage made with pallets, what he calls "the first and only permanent building in the United States to be constructed almost entirely of timber pallets and authorized with a building permit." Not only does the small project express Janz's idea of finding potential in found materials (close to 200 million pallets are disposed of every year), it does so beautifully, thanks in part to how it interfaces with other materials – most notably the corrugated translucent plastic on the exterior – but also in how the pallets are detailed, so they don't look simply like pallets slapped on the wall.

P1080656
[Pallet Garage | Photo: Wes Janz]

Ultimately Janz's work – both his teaching and his architecture – can be seen as an inversion of the usual direction of influence, which goes from first world countries to third world countries. He works the other way around, finding inspiration in the methods of third world countries, where resources are scarce and creativity is a matter of finding the right uses for what is available. As well, materials don't have a limited shelf life, after which they are discarded; they are reconsidered after fulfilling their primary use. Pallets, therefore, are not thrown away after carrying boxes of dry goods, or whatever the case may be, for a period of time; they are fixed up to become walls, floors and even roofs for different types of shelters. It's an admirable position that should be more widespread, and perhaps this small book will help.

Purchase from Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com
Author: "John Hill (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "book-review"
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Date: Monday, 11 Aug 2014 12:53
Built By Women New York City

The Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation received grants from the New York Building Foundation and the New York Council for the Humanities to identify 100 outstanding structures and built environments, either contemporary or historic, designed and/or constructed by women in New York City. You are invited to nominate a woman or yourself using the following criteria:

The structure or built environment must have a woman who was directly responsible for leading the design (architecture, engineering, or landscape) or who led the construction, either from the development or construction management team.
Nominations are open until October 2014.


Breaking New Ground

Breaking New Ground is an international design and ideas competition addressing the urgent affordable housing needs of farmworker and service worker families in the Coachella Valley. Efforts to improve living conditions suffer from a lack of funding and coordination. The competition seeks to address this by harnessing the power of design to envision new precedents, mechanisms, and policies for affordable housing implementation and development, with implications for California and the nation.
Registration opens in October.


The Dead Prize

In the past decade we have seen an explosion of honors and awards for the most innovative and forward thinking solutions. Yet no one recognizes the projects that have caused harm to the environment - designs that are helping shorten our existence on this planet. This is why we created the DEAD prize. Let's recognize the bad, honor the failures and hopefully do something to rectify these designs against humanity.
Nominations happen exclusively via Twitter (for now), with a deadline of November 1.
Author: "John Hill (noreply@blogger.com)"
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