Sunday, 30 November 2008

The Ugly Faces

When the city's life moves on, people tend to forget about the "Ugly Faces" of the city. While new "fresh" architects start their practice they design buildings as if they where monuments, very often with no contextual respect. Their new building is "dropped off" at a site like an alien spaceship forgetting about what stands around them.

Their is nothing wrong with the new modern approach to design and the creation of new history rather then holding our same cultural heritage forever, but buildings must be designed as if they where timeless and should have a positive effect on the city.

Now lets look at these "Ugly faces" of the urban landscape. They reflect on the personality of the people who live there, they are strong, powerful and dangerous. Not forgetting that architecture is an imposed art, we can not forget that if we design a building it can have a huge effect on peoples everyday lives.

But its not only about designing new buildings that our better and wont turn in to or be part of these Ugly Faces. We can not move on and pretend that the Ugly Faces do not exist, or pretend we have nothing to do with them. As an architect if you want to change something in this world, start from your city, start from the neighbourhood that you look down to with total rejection, the neighbourhood that stays gray and dirty, the neighbourhood with crime and violence.

Change the architecture.

We have to think of architecture at a bigger scale and the effects it has on people, both now and in a thousand years.

Changing the Ugly faces of the city to something more human can change the city growth. Adopting the facades of the Ugly Faces of the city to change the space can result in not only government support but the people support. Lets face it, people always want a better place to live, a better environment, people want a better life.

So lets start now, we can look at this as another way of recycling the city and saving the Environment.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Design Genetics

There is something fantastic about looking at a design and being able to recall ones that are similar. Today on I came across a bench designed by Ghery. My fellow readers were kind enough to post similar works done by different designers. Examples are posted below:

David Trubridge:

Matthais Pliessnig:

If design is an organic process then similar mutations are to be expected and perhaps encouraged as the product is refined. Notice the subtle nuances differentiating the three designers mentioned so far. Each adds his/her own particular quality into the equation. It is this subtlety that makes all the differences.

Have you noticed how Ghery finishes the tail of his structure with quite a coarse ending of somewhat ruggedly cut reeds? This adds to the “whooosh” effect of the dynamic snakelike form he has created. This is not to be observed in Pliessnig nor Trubridge, who prefer to trim their structures with rather more geometrically defined finish. Not that Ghery’s stance is superior in any way, indeed, there is a certain degree of impracticality to this feature, including the possibility of tearing ones tights!

There is also great elegance in the parallelinearity of the seating and the reeds are sufficiently spaced so as to give a true impression of translucency (again a subtle differentiator to the work of say, Pliessnig, who seems to prefer closer spacing) I would love to sit on these.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Open Source Collaboration - connecting the experts

The concept of open source collaboration poses a serious opportunity for the realization of the Holotect Philosophy.

This post does not attempt to summarize he open source phenomenon, wikipedia can do that perhaps more effectively (itself being, incidentally, a good example of the phenomenon)

This post however does recognise the ability to connect thousands of people (and thus talented minds) from across the globe to address a common issue. In the case of software it has been for the cause of creating software. Can this be extended to other things, such as holitective design of physical environments and buildings?

Before we search for examples where this has happened or attempted, let us look at some of the key generic features that enable this phenomenon to take place:

Firstly, a favourable characteristic is modularity. The success of an open source project very much relies on its ability to break down the project into distinct components that can be worked on somewhat independently from the other parts by people in remote locations. To what degree can the building process/product be broken down in such way?

The second prerequisite of a truly functioning open source project is the presence of strong leadership. This may take the form of a distinct individual or a core committee. They do not have the power to tell who to do what ( as all contributions are voluntary) . They do, however, provide the underlining "vision" of the project, setting milestones and giving overall direction. They will have been the ones who partitioned the modules mentioned above, and ultimately they will be responsible perhaps for bringing it all together. In the case of software development, leadership also takes the role of avoiding the very real risk of the project "forking". This is the phenomenon in which a group of people with passionate views that the project should head elsewhere, take the project into their own hands (together with a group of followers and create a different product. To avoid this, the contributors must trust that the leaders objectives are sufficiently congruent with their own, and not simply ego-driven, purely commercial, or adversely political in nature. It is thus obvious that charismatic (trustworthy) leadership is the key to the success of the project.

Finally the project must be attractive to potential contributes. In the Software world this usually means that there needs to be interesting and fun challenges to be solved, as most engineers derive their satisfaction from solving complex problems. Perhaps more generally, an attractive project is one which also provides a certain degree of viability, that is, it looks like it might just work and be a success. This often means that the leader, in the form of a committee or individual, must provide a "critical mass" of initial material to which an online community can react. This quantity will vary from project to project.

These three aspects -

  1. The modulation of a large task
  2. Strong leadership
  3. Attractive critical mass
- form the basis of any successful open source project, and it would be interesting to see how this could be applied to the design of human spaces.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Hololab - Chapter 1 "Wars+sava Bridge"

Hololab ref010811.02

Performed By: White Phosphorus and Pokefinger

Subject: "Wars+sava Bridge"

Abstract: An attempt to combine [...]


1)Conception of Thought

The "Wars+sava Bridge" Is a connection between the workshop of a dissabled creator and his family dwelling.

2) Setting

View Larger Map'>London Shad Thames - The fictional home of Oliver Twist (If you look closely, you can just about make out the exisiting Steel and timber bridges already crossing over the street)

3)Geometrical Genesis

What do you want the bridge to be? What do you want the bridge to connect? What storey has the bridge to tell?

The Bridge must stimulate the thought process of the viewer. It should reach out and touch you when you experience it, walk over it or see it. It must stretch the viewer by itself pushing the boundaries of what a bridge can be.

Pontevecchio is a Renascence bridge with overhanging shops as it crossed the river. It stretched the ideas of what a bridge could be at the time. Zaha Hadid- Can a Bridge be a "horizontal skyscraper". The concept of bridge can challenged by adding new functionality and adapt to the needs of a comunity.

But what happens when your community is a) disabled & b)of immigrant status?

The "Wars+sava Bridge" Forms a defensive and mobile adaptation to a new environment.

4) The Engineering

The story is not always easily expressed. The physical form that embodies the message of the bridge is one which would not be obviously chosen based on conventional criterion. It poses a challenge.

The tapered shape is inherently beneficial to match the distribution of moments. The chosen crossection is favourable for the distribution of stresses.

But the material - ie concrete - is an interesting material solution for a bridge that moves or slides.

Pokefinger: What was amazing for me explaining the concept to White Phosphorus (WP) Gave more life to the process. The fact that it was challenged and solutions were explored made it more real. The fact that it was deemed potentially possible was inspiring and made me realise theat the designer must have a closer relationship to one whoo understands the physical workings of structure. there needs to be a balance between the requirements of the structure and the storey it needs to tell, and what needs to be figured out is the order in which these two are conceved. To what degree can it be simultanious without one impeding or restricitng the other?

White Phosphorus: When I first the bridge I thought: This is the last solution i would conceve to what i thought was a very simple problem: get from one side to the other. Pokefinger wanted subtantially more than that: He wanted to a storey, and this became apparent very early on. What was incredible was to start from a concept that seemed absolutly irrational from a structural point of view and yet rational from a sociological and narrative point of view. It was exciting to enable the story to be told, and it will be interesting to see to what degree structure influences the final flavours of the end product. I would have never conceved such a form from where i was standing.