Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Watermelon Nights

"Watermelon Nights" is the 11th episode of the Meth Minute 39 cartoon series. Director Dan Meth takes the animation out into the real world with a full-length stop motion music video for this summer anthem by underground musician John Crave.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Robotic Self Healing Chair

Oh dear, all you need might be a cabinetmaker???

Lightning strikes tall buildings in Chicago

South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre by Anagram Architects

© Courtesy of Anagram Architects
Architects: Anagram Architects
Location: New Delhi, India
Photographs: Courtesy of Anagram Architects

South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC) is a non-governmental organisation which seeks to investigate, document and disseminate information about human rights. A small office with limited resources, the SAHRDC also runs an internship programme attracting scholars from universities in India and abroad. It required an office to be made on a 50 sqm plot emphasising spatial efficiency and cost effective construction.

Design Generators

The site is at a busy street corner with essentially pedestrian traffic. As the site is not very large, the acoustic and visual intrusion of the street activity into work spaces was a key concern.

site plan
The method of construction adopted had to optimize the space available on site and a modest budget.
The orientation of the site is such that the longer 10m side is exposed to direct sun throughout the day. Reducing the resulting solar thermal gain was an important design generator.

© Courtesy of Anagram Architects

Design response

Although some fortification against the street was required, it was crucial for the façade “converse” with the external activity. The external wall is conceived as an animated, dynamic skin reflecting the bustle of the street and activating what would otherwise have been a mundane façade with minimal fenestrations. The porosity of the wall maintains a degree of privacy while playfully engaging with the street corner.
Efficient Space utilisation is achieved by creating a single consolidated volume on each floor to be flexibly partitioned as per the client’s requirements. This volume is serviced by a flanking buffer bay of a single flight cantilevered staircase and a toilet stack. Costs were minimised by using exposed brick construction and by creating a beamless soffit at every floor. To create a beamless soffit without increasing the thickness of the slab, a gently vaulting roof was designed. Lateral inverted beams were introduced and flooring laid onto an infill so that each floor plate insulated eliminating the need for a false ceiling.

ground floor plan

© Courtesy of Anagram Architects
This buffer bay forms a breathing thermal barrier along the sun facing side. By situating the staircase and toilet stack in this bay, the internal workspaces are protected. The porosity of the wall ensures that the buffer bay is well ventilated and yet shaded so as to reduce the amount of heat transmitted to the workspaces. A single repeating brick module creates a visually complex pattern in the manner of traditional South Asian brise soleils.
The construction of the wall:
A six brick module is laid in staggered courses that create twirling vertical stacks and an undulating surface. The construction of the screen wall was a result of a five-week process devising masonry techniques on site. From verification of plumbline to the structural bonding of the brick courses, methods of brick laying were devised through a deep on-site collaboration between the masons and the architects.

© Courtesy of Anagram Architects

brick wall detail 02
There were four objectives that the construction of the screen wall was attempting to achieve:
High level of porosity in the central portion of the wall.
Effective horizontal bonding and load distribution between the bricks.
No visible intrusion of any material other than brick masonry onto the façade.
The repeating pattern modules must be complete end to end over the entire width and height of the wall i.e. there should be no deviation in the pattern.
Through computer modeling, the architects realized that a simple rotating module of bricks would create the kind of visual and textural complexity need to achieve the design objective of engaging the street corner.

© Courtesy of Anagram Architects
To begin with a six brick module of bricks on edge was devised for the construction of the wall. This was so that the module would cubic in shape and therefore directionally inert. Bricks were laid on edge so that the voids created by missing bricks would substantially contribute to the porosity in the central portion.
But using a 6 brick module created to very basic masonry concerns:
For proper alignment (prevention of corbelling), all the centres of the modules in a vertical stack had to fall on one perfectly vertical axis around which the module would rotate. This was difficult to estimate accurately on site during bricklaying (owing to human errors).
The other issue was verification of plumbness of every course. Dropping an accurate plumb line from one course to the next was not feasible since the brick faces were not in the same plane.
A single vertical stack was built and rebuilt five times on site with both the architects and the masons trying to co-strategise on a simple and practical brick laying technique that could be replicated by the various masonry teams without relying heavily on the individual skills of a master mason.

© Courtesy of Anagram Architects
The floor slabs were cast at floor-to-floor heights of 3180 mm. This was distributed over two sets of continuously repeating 6 module course patterns so that the 1st, 7th and 13th course are the same. A set of 6 individual course drawings were prepared in studio and the angle of rotation between them calculated. From these, sets of triangular wooden wedges were made and distributed amongst the masonry teams. They were used by the bricklayers to verify the orientation of the bricks while laying them.
The horizontal interlocking between modules essentially happens through the cross-stack overlapping of the central bricks in the modules. In the porous central portion of the façade, brickwork is reinforced horizontally by a laying a thin section (95mm X 125 mm) reinforced cement concrete beam along the cavity created by the missing central brick.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

adamo-faiden arquitectos Casa Chalú in Buenos Aires

from here on AFASIA, thank you

Casa Chalú. Buenos Aires

photos: gracias a adamo-faiden arquitectos

Paul Virilio, Bunker Archeology (Book)

link to ANARCHITECTURE, thank you

The Atlantic Wall - Linear Museum
Between 1942 and 1944 the German military erected a gigantic defensive wall along the Atlantic coast, running from France to Norway: more than 12.000 concrete bunkers were built.

Surprisingly the bunker architecture reveals an aesthetics hardly to deny.

Bunker Archaeology, by Paul Virilio

Paul Virilio examined already 1975 the German bunkers from WW II that lie abandoned on the coast of France. (Bunker Archaeology, by Paul Virilio): black and white photography accompanied by philosophical essays.

The exhibition - The Atlantic Wall (at the Az W in Vienna, Austria, from 13.09 - 09.10.2006) - documents the various types of building for the first time on the basis of old plans and photographs. It was created by the DPA-Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with institutions in France and Belgium.

The infrastructure, a unique example of its kind, is of great interest for many reasons, including the architectural quality of its vast building system, the ability of these objects to define a new aesthetic canon for modernity, and the relationships they have established with their natural and urban contexts essential elements for interpreting cultural landscapes (source: The Atlantic Wall, Linear Museum).

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Richard Meier: Model Museum

About a block from the East River and the Pepsi sign in Long Island City is the Richard Meier Model Museum. Its presence is subtly discerned by a sign rendered in the familiar typographics and abundant white space that graces the architect's monographs, web page and everything else with the architect's stamp of approval.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[the unassuming front door to the Richard Meier Model Museum]

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend a press tour of the museum with the architect himself, a day before it reopens to the public for its 2010 season. Below are some photographs I shot and some commentary on the 3,600sf space featuring works from the 1960s to the present.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[view of the museum from the direction of the entrance]

Entering the third floor museum, the primarily wood models stand out in the all-white space. About half of the square footage is occupied by Getty Center models, from small-scale studies to a huge highly detailed, 16-piece model (foreground above) and an inhabitable gallery space used for studying daylighting (background above). The effect is certainly overwhelming, further elevating the significance of the master architect.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[looking the opposite direction of the previous photo]

What comes across in the myriad models is an unbelievable level of perfection and a consistency that jibes with Meier's buildings across his 40-odd year career. Study models seen earlier in a brief tour of Meier's west side office were anything but, resembling finished models more than works in progress. Precision and a refinement of space, light, material and detail predominate. My own tastes lean towards architects who vary their output in form and style according to the site and program at hand, but my admittedly inferior model-making skills make me appreciate the craft and patience they exhibit.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[early "studies" for the Getty Center]

Richard Meier Model Museum
[Mr. Meier describing the Getty Center project]

Of the Getty Center models, perhaps my favorite was the one with a scale somewhere between the "studies" and the large-scale model loomed over by Meier above. Below is a detail of a quite big and highly detailed one-piece model that had to be craned into the museum through a now-covered skylight. I seem to recall the model being 16' long! I like it because it gives a much better sense of the overall project than the others, which are either too small to get into the particulars of each building, or too large to be absorbed at once. This one really conveys the scale and grandeur of the 15-year-long project.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[another Getty Center model]

While the Getty is represented by a double-digit number of models, only one exists for the World Trade Center proposal Meier developed with Peter Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey and Steven Holl.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[WTC proposal model]

As most know the relatively diagrammatic design did not make it to the final round, but Meier holds high regard for the proposal and what it embodies, particularly in terms of how voids represent memory.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[Meier in the void between the two towers]

Lastly are the steel sculptures that Meier has created in his free time, messy assemblages compared to his crisp, precise, white buildings. An outlet from the rigor of his practice?

Richard Meier Model Museum
[Meier's artwork adorns the walls]

Previously I "mashed up" some of Meier's freestanding pieces with photos of his buildings to illustrate the discrepancy. In the model musuem, a real mash-up occurs in the juxtaposition between the crafted models and still crafted but uniquely different steel sculptures.

Richard Meier Model Museum
[models galore]

Those interested in visiting the Richard Meier Model Museum -- open on Fridays until August 27 -- should call his office at 212-967-6060.