What we did this summer.

This summer, UIC students completed two pavilion projects in different locations in Berlin. One project was a part of the annual StudioBerlin, which takes UIC students to Berlin every summer. The second project was part of an Artist-in-Residence program called HomeBase Berlin that I took part in for 3 months.

Pankow. A neighborhood in the north, and former East Berlin.

Video: The Junk King

The Junk King – Vince Hannemann – has spent much of his life constructing the Cathedral of Junk in Austin, TX. In 2010, the City of Austin requested a building permit and Vince was forced to tear down nearly half of his creation. Despite this traumatic event and with the help of many supporters, Vince was still able to keep the Cathedral alive and continue its legacy.

Directed: Evan Burns
Cinematography: Garyle Morgan & Mitzi Morrow
Produced: Eduardo Tobias


Video: The Junk King originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 30 Sep 2012.

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Suspect Yourself | You Know You’re Guilty

Digital technologies have long been used for two sides of the same coin, both sides portrayed as morally congruent. On one side, we use for our personal enjoyment objects that augment or benefit our day-to-day lives without being completely necessary, such as the clothes in which we hide or the shoes on which we depend to wade through our own urban wastelands. On the other, we see technologies being used by collective entities to supposedly enhance our lives by surveilling us and our neighbors—essentially preemptively criminalizing everyone prior to acts of crime, in the name of preventing crimesthat may or may not have actually ever happened.

And so in our age of silicon microchips, we find digital technologies not only able to observe to an exceedingly alarming degree the facets of our daily activities, but to digitally reconstruct in near-real time. With the introduction of software that can stitch together photographs to form architectural three-dimensional models, and ca…

Princeton Symposium To Explore Architecture And Performance

On October 13th, Princeton University will host a one-day symposium titled “Performing Architecture.” The symposium will explore the links between performance and building in a forum that “seeks to move beyond disciplinary hegemony in the dissemination of architecture today.” With all-star appearances from renowned personalities from diverse disciplines, this event shouldn’t be missed. Read more.

From the event’s website:

Pedro Gadanho (MoMA) and RoseLee Goldberg (Performa) will explore questions of political and aesthetic representation in their respective curatorial practices. Vito Acconci (Acconci Studio) and Jill Stoner (UC Berkeley) will engage the hermeneutics of performativity in the critical and material destructuring of space. Artist Mary Ellen Carroll will demonstrate the performative gesture in her work, and question architecture’s appropriation of the public. Alex Schweder will enact an architectural renovation in real time. Victoria Øye(Canadian Centre for Architecture), Brynn Hatton (Northwestern University), Carlin Wing (New York University), and Timothy Simonds(Brown University) will present recent research on the materialization of performance in contemporary architecture. With the issues addressed at Performing Architecture, we hope to offer lasting provocations to how we think of the body, space, structure, and design in the disciplines of performance and architecture – and somewhere between the two.

Lake Chapel / Divece Arquitectos

Architects: Divece Arquitectos
Location: Zamora, Michoacán, México
Design Team: Paolino Di Vece
Project Year: 2010
Project Area: 348,21 sqm
Photographs: Carlos Díaz Corona

The architectonic concept for this ecumenical chapel  is that  the countless  columns  that  disorderly support  the  rectangular roof  for the chapel, are conceived as an analogy of a group of  filaments that,  when lit with the proper energy,  can illuminate our earthly  lives  with a  glimpse of  heavenly light.

According to Pythagoras “this world is false and illusive, a turbid medium in which the rays of heavenly light are broken and obscured in mist and darkness”.

On the other hand, Mother Teresa tells us that through constant prayer we can become an instrument of the divine light that illuminates the world.

“The filaments of the light bulbs are useless if they are not energized. You, me, are filaments.   The energy is God.  We have the possibility of letting this energy pass through ourselves and let it utilize us in order to produce light for the world”.

This ecumenical chapel takes advantage of its central position within the residential development to remind its users that spiritual life has become a forgotten priority in our everyday activities; the chapel takes the central stage of the development  in order to emphasize the possibility of making the act of praying a useful habit that cannot only help each one of its inhabitants find their  own path in life, but also to help everyone of them become an energized filament which produces light for the world.

This chapel is configured as a lightweight structure, almost ephemeral, that makes itself accessible for everyone at anytime; the chapel dissolves its boundaries in order to impregnate itself of its immediate surroundings and becomes a semi transparent object difficult to idealize. This building performs as  a character that acts under the effects of  light, that changes with sunlight, that becomes enhanced by its users and celebrates its mission as a catalyst of the  everyday activities  proper of this residential development.

Furthermore, spirituality is no longer a luxury for a few, that can only be achieved through a scheduled visit to a sacred site, but it could become a usual state of mind that transforms our everyday lives and becomes one positive influence for the world that surrounds its users.

Capilla del Lago / Divece Arquitectos © Carlos Díaz Corona
Capilla del Lago / Divece Arquitectos © Carlos Díaz Corona
Capilla del Lago / Divece Arquitectos © Carlos Díaz Corona
Capilla del Lago / Divece Arquitectos © Carlos Díaz Corona
Capilla del Lago / Divece Arquitectos © Carlos Díaz Corona
Capilla del Lago / Divece Arquitectos Ground Floor Plan 01
Capilla del Lago / Divece Arquitectos Elevation 01
Capilla del Lago / Divece Arquitectos Elevation 01
Capilla del Lago / Divece Arquitectos Section 01

Lake Chapel / Divece Arquitectos originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 30 Sep 2012.

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China. [nuff said]

[Preface: the previous blog post was sh*t.. and I realized it while on a 14:45 hour plane ride from Newark to Shanghai. Half of the time my I had a knot in my stomach.. probably from the guilt and embarrassment from posting irrelevant sh*t or it also could be the random airplane food we got courtesy of United Airlines… “Here you go… [Hotdog Croissant and Vanilla Ice Cream]”. So again sorry for the previous post and I hope you enjoy reading this one.]

Back to China…Our option studio class called Common Frameworks: Rethinking the Developmental Cities with Chris Lee and Simon Whittle, went to 2 cities in China: Shanghai for some meetings/Symposium with AECOM and Xiamen for a site visit and countless meetings with the cities planning department.

I guess the best way to share the experience is a day by day highlights of what has happen… I mind you some of the days were a complete blur because of the mixture of jet lag, Tsing Tsao and the quest for dumplings, so I might get …

XishuangbanNa Residence / Tokamarch Architects

Designed by Tokamarch Architects, the XishuangbanNa Residence deals mainly with the relationship between the modern building and local natural environment. The traditional “Dai” village keeps a great balance with the natural environment in XiShuangBanNa. The boundary of every family is divided by bamboo fences or green plants. Luxuriant and multi-layered primitive woods have brought people a green and lively village, The relationship between the living space and the natural environment is in a harmonous compatible symbiosis. More images and architects’ description after the break.

The site is located in the center of the city ‘JingHong’ (‘XiSuangBanNa’), which is next to 214 national highway(MengHai road),and just east of “Splashing Water” square, The location is also overlooking LanCang River in distance with open views. XiShuangBanNa means ‘ideal and magical land’ in ancient ‘Dai’ language. It is famous for its tropical rain forests and customs of aboriginal people. JingHong means ‘the City of Dawn’, which is the center of politics, economics and culture in XiShuangBanNa. The LanCang River is nicknamed ‘The Eastern Duna River’ for its important waterway to Southeast Asian countries.

Recently, most of the cities in China have the same “face” due to rapid development urging for instant success and quick profits, which ignores local history, cultural background and the climate conditions,These cities have lost their own local characters and charm. However, XiShuangBanNa still keeps rich local customs and unique natural environmental characteristics. The “Dai” bamboo house is made up of local materials such as woods and bamboos. It is also open and lightly blended within the natural surroundings. As a result, the relationship between human and nature is in harmony and coexistence. Presently many real estate corporations are attracted by XiShuangBanNa for its special tourism and resources.

The project transfers horizontal living spaces of the traditional ‘Dai’ village into vertical living spaces, creating a local, natural and modern new architecture, as a result. Traditional ‘Dai’ houses sit in harmony and coexistence with natural environment to introduce natural environment factors into modern living space so that traditional ‘Dai’ villages blend into the natural environment. Modern living spaces vertically settle with the traditional village spatial arrangement producing a new vertical “Dai” village.The bamboo is inseparable with local architectural culture, which is the natural transition medium between natural environment and human living environment.

Aerial gardens are produced through the “setback platform” of each level, Double- height public courtyards settle on every two levels to become the modern vertical village with local characters.Introducing different and multi-layered primitive woods and tropical plants into aerial courtyards will enrich the living environment. Moreover, green courtyards within the modern building produce the micro- ecological environment for a healthy life. Grasses soften the building edge and ground while the trees and plants provide protection from the sun and wind, all while absorbing traffic sounds from streets, This also provides for good landscaping. In addition, soils act as regenerators, which help to keep heats in the room, in order to save energy.

Double height public courtyards on every two levels combine with “setback platform” design, which make public courtyards totally open and avoid the oppression from the upper level. Sufficient spaces and sunlight make sure that trees and plants have enough spaces to grow up and combine with resting places and swimming pool facilities, which enrich spatial experiences of the public courtyards. The courtyards link by the staircases to provide convenience for the user of space.

XishuangbanNa Residence (1) Courtesy of Tokamarch Architects
XishuangbanNa Residence (2) Courtesy of Tokamarch Architects
XishuangbanNa Residence (3) Courtesy of Tokamarch Architects
XishuangbanNa Residence (4) Courtesy of Tokamarch Architects
XishuangbanNa Residence (5) Courtesy of Tokamarch Architects
XishuangbanNa Residence (6) plan 01
XishuangbanNa Residence (7) plan 02
XishuangbanNa Residence (8) section 01
XishuangbanNa Residence (9) section 02
XishuangbanNa Residence (10) section 03
XishuangbanNa Residence (11) diagram 01
XishuangbanNa Residence (12) diagram 02
XishuangbanNa Residence (13) diagram 03
XishuangbanNa Residence (14) diagram 04

XishuangbanNa Residence / Tokamarch Architects originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 30 Sep 2012.

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Design For National Museum Of Afghanistan Oddly Similar To Kahn’s Kimbell

National Museum of Afghanistan. Image: AV62 Arquitectos.

The winning design for the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul comes from the Spanish firm, AV62 Arquitectos. Featuring a series of vaults interrupted by light courts, the design is completed by the geometric motif on its roof. The work is captivating and original. Except, well, not that original as it turns out. Read more.

The design has been criticized on the internet for its copying of one of Louis Kahn’s masterworks—the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The gripes center around the fact that both museums are composed of arrayed vaults, courtyards, and complex internal light reflection systems. It is certainly surprising to see one of the icons of modern architecture reappear some 45 years later on the other side of the world.

That said, the Kimbell is certainly a worthy precedent, and this new design for Kabul certainly looks like it achieves some of the Kimbell’s elegance. One simply has to wonder at the brazenness of the designers in this situation.

Kahn’s version. Image: Kimbell Art Museum.

Vaults and reflectors in AV62 Arquitectos’s version. Image: AV62 Arquitectos.

Kahn’s lightscape. Image: Kimbell Art Museum.

Image: AV62 Arquitectos.

U Square / Atelier of Architects

Architects: Atelier of Architects
Location: Rangsit, Pathumthani, Thailand
Project Team: Prasertwitayakarn, Pahol Chokrada, Narongdet Wongwanchai
Project Year: 2012
Project Area: 9,700 sqm
Photographs: Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn

Located in the outer skirt of Bangkok, along the fence of Thammasat University Rangsit Campus, U Square is the composition of two counterparts, apartment and retail. In the wedge shape 1.5 Acres land plot, the 7 storey apartment building is placed towards the rear, while 2 storey retail is placed perpendicular towards the main entrance axis to create the visual exposure from the frontal structure to the rear.

The retail, made out of two parallel steel structures are defined by the trajectory of the walkway, inter linking bridge and the orange cylinder toilet. While the apartment’s articulation pursues for elimination of repetition by the continuously folded form. The lift foyer at each floor, are aligned towards the space between two bars of retail.

U Square is the celebration of dynamism of space while resonances with color and line.

U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects © Boonchaleaw & Prasertwitayakarn
U Square / Atelier of Architects Ground Floor Plan 01
U Square / Atelier of Architects Upper Floor Plan 01
U Square / Atelier of Architects Top Floor Plan 01

U Square / Atelier of Architects originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 30 Sep 2012.

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RA-50: HOME Competition Mention / in situ studio + David Hill

The RA-50 proposal for the HOME Competition, designed by in situ studio and David Hill, AIA, focuses on building density through alleyway living. By assessing each existing residential parcel in the city of Raleigh, it was apparent that most downtown parcels are larger than the current zoning requirements and will be even larger proportionally once the new UDO is ratified. Therefore, their proposal establishes a new zone within the UDO – alley residential, or RA-50. This new zone would be allowed in any block that is bisected by an existing or potential alleyway and where lots backing up to the alleyways have a surplus of land to shave away and form new, smaller lots that could front the alleyway. More images and architects’ description after the break.

In 2008, the world’s population became predominantly urban. In the US, rather than gravitating to urban centers along the West Coast, in the Northeast, and across the upper Midwest, new urban populations landed in emerging urban centers. The fastest growing US cities between 2000 and 2010 were Charlotte, Raleigh, Cape Coral, Provo, Austin, Las Vegas, McAllen, Knoxville, Greenville, and San Antonio. These cities have young, educated populations, mild weather, entrepreneurial economies, and concentrations of technical creativity. These cities also generally lack substantial mass transit infrastructure, do not readily accommodate non-traditional populations, and are land-locked by single-family housing grids. Establishing new zoning that can accommodate denser populations and support smaller household formats in these cities is likely a more relevant effort than anything related to New York, Chicago, or San Francisco.

Raleigh, North Carolina (NC), metro population 884,891, grew by 63.4% between 2000 and 2010. As the capital city of NC, the hub of the Triangle region, and home to three major research universities, Raleigh is poised to maintain a steep climb towards urban significance. The average age in Raleigh is 32 years – students who come to the region to study and stay are major contributors to the steady population boom. Raleigh also has a large professional transient population – people who arrive pursuing opportunities in the booming local economy. And, Raleigh has a large aging population and a growing population of other low- or fixed-income people. The non-nuclear family population in Raleigh is growing.

Over the past decade, people have again begun living in the downtown core. Numerous mid- and high-rise housing projects have sprouted within walking distance of the city center. The single-family neighborhoods surrounding the city center have also experienced a renaissance. These two trends bracket the bounds of living conditions by providing high-cost urban dwelling in the former case and expensive large-lot single-family housing in the latter. Yet, nowhere in downtown has there emerged an affordable, flexible housing type for the creative entrepreneur, the intern who bikes to work, the retired teacher who rides the bus, the laid-off, middle-aged manager, the disabled veteran relying on social infrastructure, the single mom of one who needs to get back on her feet after a divorce. To be viable, Raleigh’s urban core must accommodate these populations.

The City of Raleigh has spent the last three years preparing a new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). One major component of the new UDO is a reduction in required lot sizes for zoning designations. For example, a lot currently zoned R-10 is required to have a minimum lot size of 5,000 SF. Under the new UDO, the R-10 lot size requirement will be 4,000 SF. The UDO will also allow accessory dwellings on lots in the R-1, R-2, R4, R6, and R-10 zoning designations. In addition, former zones R-15 and R-20 will become residential mixed-use, or RX. These reclassifications, affecting 100% of residential lots in the downtown area, bring the potential for greater density and greater diversity in housing formats and demographics across the city.

The same lot-by-lot assessment reveals another pattern: some blocks downtown have alleys running through their centers, and most have a continuous seam of rear lot lines bisecting the block that could easily support an alley. Once vital to the support and infrastructure of the neighborhoods, Raleigh’s alleys are now comparatively barren. We see the potential for a new zone designed to exploit the full potential density of the downtown grid by allowing alleyway dwelling.

At a minimum of only 800 SF, the new alleyway parcels would be able to accommodate small dwellings and gardens for one or two people that would be integral to a new network of pedestrian alleyways that would complement the existing street grid in downtown. These new parcels would yield a multiple bottom line. Current landowners could generate income off their excess land by either selling an RA-50 parcel or building a dwelling on one leasing it. Many lots are large enough to yield two or three such parcels. The new parcels would provide a new affordable housing option in close proximity to the university, public infrastructure, transportation hubs, and popular social venues. The city would benefit from new utility service units evenly dispersed within an existing downtown infrastructure, generating new income with minimal investment in new infrastructure. Finally, the environmental benefits of a more generous pedestrian environment, a more diverse and dense population, and a more concentrated population reliant on alternative transportation systems would positively alter the social landscape of downtown Raleigh.

The RA-50 zone demands a new house type that is modular, flexible, and equal in cost to a car. At roughly $30,000.00, and combined with a $3,000.00 RA-50 parcel, the cost of a new RA-50 property equates to a roughly $200.00/month mortgage. This monthly commitment drastically undercuts even the most affordable living options currently available in the city and opens housing opportunities to many. The unit is a kit of parts. Five component segments – porch, stoop, den, patio, and bed, each containing an important support function – can be combined in nearly unlimited formats. The roughly 100 SF segments can easily compose dwellings ranging in size from 300 to 800 SF and costing $20,000.00 to $50,000.00. Plug-ins for seating, dining, and energy collection allow residents to further customize their homes.

The new owner of an RA-50 lot sites their home by casting curb foundations to support the segments they have selected. Segments arrive on a boom truck, along with the necessary materials to clad segments once assembled. The truck does the heavy lifting, and the remainder of the work is easily accomplished by a few individuals. The alleys are pedestrian environments, with the only traffic being a periodic boom truck announcing the arrival of a new neighbor. RA-50 houses vary in their relationship to the alley. Sometimes long-side to the alley and sometimes gable to alley, varying in size, clad at the whim of the owner, and scattered as lots allow, the RA-50 settlement pattern is a rich, patchwork pedestrian grid creating an offset plaid to the downtown grid.

As smaller suburban cities urbanize across the United States, increasing density in predominantly single-family home lot structures will become a pressing issue. Many of the most rapidly growing, second-tier cities in the US, including Raleigh, NC, have a surplus of land per lot in their downtown areas and, in many cases, have existing or easily-established alleys throughout downtown neighborhoods. The RA-50 zoning model takes advantage of these traits common to the new breed of American city and presents a multiple bottom line to the benefit of current land owners, currently unhoused populations, the cities themselves, and the health of the cities’ social environments.

RA-50: HOME Competition Entry (1) Courtesy of in situ studio + David Hill
RA-50: HOME Competition Entry (2) Courtesy of in situ studio + David Hill
RA-50: HOME Competition Entry (3) Courtesy of in situ studio + David Hill
RA-50: HOME Competition Entry (4) plan
RA-50: HOME Competition Entry (5) section
RA-50: HOME Competition Entry (6) diagram 01
RA-50: HOME Competition Entry (7) diagram 02
RA-50: HOME Competition Entry (8) diagram 03
RA-50: HOME Competition Entry (9) diagram 04

RA-50: HOME Competition Mention / in situ studio + David Hill originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 30 Sep 2012.

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