Art is as about subjective as it gets. What one person loves another might loathe. Except, of course, if that one person is Charles Saatchi — then regardless of whether you love it or loathe it, it’s going to be of cultural significance. After all, Saatchi is the man credited with propelling young British artists Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin into the art stratosphere.
Karachi born artist Huma Bhabha works primarily with found materials (how very “G”), reworking everyday objects into new and fascinating forms. Now, I’m no Saachi — but for what it’s worth, here are my observations:
Before 2004, I’ll bet many of us had never heard of Sumatra, Indonesia, or given much thought to daily life in places like Sri Lanka or Thailand. But that year, one word forever changed the way we think about these far off lands. That word, for those of you who aren’t already two steps ahead of me, was tsunami. And today, thanks in part to the tragedy, another word may change the way we handle similar crisis and relief efforts. That word is Sanctuary — a new emergency shelter concept from Sweden-based design firm Barometrix.
One of the greatest challenges in the relief operation of the tsunami disaster — which is still underway — was providing sanitary drinking water, food and shelter. In the aftermath, it became clear that two things were needed: a tsunami warning system to detect possible tsunamis & give time for evacuation, and a better response and relief plan for such disasters.
Close your eyes and think of Moscow, Russia. The image that comes to mind is a series of funky-colored domes, large open squares, and even a gigantic banner of Stalin – or Lenin (depending on when you grew up). Now picture a giant, volcano-shaped glass and steel structure that rises gradually out of a large park to dominate the city’s skyline.
The world’s largest green building is coming to Moscow. Dubbed Crystal Island, the structure (designed by London’s Foster + Partners) will boast over 2.5 million square meters of usable space, also making it the world’s largest single building. It will house theaters, offices, residences, performance centers and even an international school.
Add China to the list of countries that are ahead of the U.S. in green building design.Steven Holl has been commissioned to redesign an entire city block in Chengdu, using innovative design that has earned a LEED gold rating. The goal, according to Holl’s firm, is to “maximize public open space and to stimulate micro-urbanism.”
The project is named the Sliced Porosity Block and it lives up to its name. Five buildings surround a multi-level central plaza that contains water pools, carved stone terraces and open space. The buildings look a bit like Swiss cheese, with numerous “voids” for public gathering or just sitting and staring out at the city.
It’s refreshing to find out there are actually companies being started by those who’ve competed in the Solar Decathlon. I was getting a little tired of just reading about the prototypes and wishing the homes would become more than just expensive experiments.
While there must be other former decathletes taking their prototypes on the road, 2005’s Cornell University team is getting the bulk of the attention. Their company Independence Energy Homes seems to be thriving in a short period of time. IEH is a design and energy consulting firm that’s remodeling homes and creating more zero energy prototypes throughout the world.
Can a building material help save the planet? The people behind Timbercrete seem to think so.
Designed in Australia, Timbercrete is a handmade building product that reduces building costs, simulating a sandstone/limestone finish. Made from recycled timber from plantation timbers and then combined with other raw materials like cellulose, cement and sand to enhance block strength and prevent excessive water penetration, it’s then produced as various shapes like brick, block or paneling and can be purchased in any texture or color Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
Don’t you just hate it when you buy a piece of flat pack furniture from a certain Swedish home product empire and you schlep it all the way home only to discover a key piece of wood has been drilled incorrectly, or that there’s a bolt missing, preventing you from constructing said piece of furniture? BTW, this isn’t a hypothetical… sadly, this was my weekend.
Here’s a green home design from Italy that looks like the typical set-up we’ve been seeing for new homes – an all-glass main floor with something more private on top. But while it’s reportedly won an international competition, I haven’t been able to figure out what exactly makes it green.
Maybe it’s the use of the sun. Current design trends take advantage of solar energy by strategically placing glass and incorporating the surrounding landscape to provide a cooling effect when necessary. But even the company inadvertently admits that the real e-factor in a house is the placement, paying attention to available sun and shade.
Chandeliers usually conjure up images of opulence and excess. Perhaps a little distasteful in our age of melting ice caps? Well, not necessarily. British designer Stuart Haygarth re-interprets the chandelier for his latest project, Optical Chandelier. This stunning high-end light, launched at Liberty of London’s Trash Luxe exhibition earlier this year, is 150 cm wide and consists of 3,000 lenses from unwanted eyeglasses.
For almost two decades, I’ve been a victim of L.A.’s various pollutants. From the smog to the endless rows of uninspired strip malls that seem to pop up overnight, this otherwise terrific city has for too long been harmful to both the lungs and the eyes. What we need is more visual appeal combined with auto-sufficiency – something that not only looks incredible but contributes to a cleaner, healthier existence.
Leave it to the French to make my fantasy a reality. Vincent Callebaut’s Anti-Smog: An Innovation Centre in Sustainable Development accomplishes all this and more, using green building techniques and green technology to create a visually stunning center comprised of two structures that feature public spaces like meeting rooms, galleries, a cafeteria and a courtyard.
Symbiosis in design always intrigues me. While the integration of disparate and creative elements into one cohesive unit doesn’t always make for great art — when it works, it’s worth noting. From the strange but wonderful slicing and clanging noises in ‘80s Depeche Mode music (which seemed radical at the time) to a chandelier made from exploded party poppers, it’s the joining of unusual things that I most love to hear and see.
The same goes for verbal or intellectual concepts. Take, for example, John Paananen’s Suburban Tipi (or teepee, as I like to call it). It’s hard to imagine someone actually building a teepee in the middle of suburbia, but that’s exactly what Johnny P did in Bloomfield, Michigan. Inspired by the “fused nomadic home designs of the yurt, tipi, and igloo” (as well as an encounter with a teepee-housed woman named Rosemary, who accused the designer of interfering with her energy), Paananen “slip[ped] the straitjacket of suburban values, materials, and methods of construction over them” to create this temporary “house” that stood for seven months.
Although it may sound like something from a futuristic episode of “Heroes”, crossing this bridge won’t transport you to 17th century Japan or post-apocalyptic New York. The Space/Time Transformation is a stunning footbridge to be crafted from steel and glass. While aimed at pedestrians, the structure is anything but. The brainchild of internationally renowned artist and designer Michael Jantzen, the bridge is as functional as it is beautiful.
The first thing you’ll notice about this design concept is that it would be made of clear glass, allowing those on the walkway to see the terrain below. The outer shell would be made of “glass impregnated with translucent solar cells that form a graphic grid around its circumference”, which will not only provide shade but has the ability to convert sunlight to electricity. This energy will be used to illuminate the walkway at night as well as power movement of the outer shell, which responds to motion.