Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sendak, Pre-Vegitect?

One of my favorite children's books when I was a kid was the Maurice Sendak classic 'Where the Wild Things Are' (probably a close tie with Ferdinand the Bull). As many know, this tale of Max as the kid with the wild imagination and awesome wolf costume (which by god I will do for halloween some day).

:: image via Wikipedia

Recently, Strange Harvest posted some provocative imagery that took me aback with it's veg.itectural stylings... showing the evolutionary shift from architecture to forest - with the in-between moments the most compelling. And paying off with the classic "...a forest grew. And grew. And grew until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around."

And paying off with the classic "...a forest grew. And grew. And grew until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around."

:: images via Strange Harvest

Is it me, or does Max remind one of, say... Patrick Blanc? :) And check out the postscript with a great comment from Mr. Trevi from uber-blog Pruned, riffing (from memory?) on the salle a' manger in the Hameau at Chantilly... causing me to ask - why he ain't posting that kinda stuff on the blog? :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Veg.itecture #40

I have a folder where I keep upcoming items to disseminate in the intermittent Veg.itecture series - and it usually tops out at 15 or so items before I get around to a weekly or bi-weekly compilation - which make for a somewhat lengthy but manageable post. In this case, today I noticed 50+ items in this folder - which even excludes some of the recent posts of major Veg.itectural project such as the California Academy of Sciences Building, the work of Patrick Blanc, Hundertwasser, a trio of green projects, and some Neo-Vertical Greening to name a few.

So how to deal with such a dilemma? Aside from pulling together an upcoming guest post on WebUrbanist about Vegetated Architecture (stay tuned for that) - I guess it's just time to dive in - perhaps spanning a range of posts over the next week. Where to start? I've been going through a phase of home-envy, so this first project is a really cool one on the NY Times which came via ArchNewsNow for a very green penthouse apartment in NYC - both inside and out.

:: images via NY Times

And a sexy Chicago rooftop garden (i.e. not a green roof) at The Residences at 900 via Jetson Green provides shared amenity space for, I'm guessing, the residents?

:: images via Jetson Green

I don't know if this one is actual vegetated architecture - I just really like the image of Logroño Montecorvo Eco City, Rioja Province, Spain by MVRDV - specifically with the hillside floating up behind the building.

:: image via WAN

Another non-veg example this reminds me of is a recent post from Arch Daily that makes use of the borrowed views of adjacent hillsides at the Glass bottling Plant Cristalchile.

:: images via Arch Daily

Back to the actually vegetated projects - here's some greenwashing at the Nanjing China HQ of Chevron by Perkins+Will. Via WAN: "The architecture represents this process by emphasizing the intersection of the contemporary and traditional. It symbolizes this intersection of global and local by reinventing the vernacular in a contemporary context. ...The zig-zag contemplative path found in traditional Chinese gardens serves as the organizing device for the departments of the headquarters which are broken into five distinct wings. A sloping green roof unifies the massing of the five wings and also covers areas to form roof terraces for employees."

:: image via WAN

One of the more strange examples of vertical greening via Treehugger - a development of green clad floating homes made with recycled polystyrene RexWall.

:: images via Treehugger

BDonline with a blink-or-you-miss-it external green wall next to an entry canopy for a development in the UK, from a project by Pelli Clark Pelli.

:: image via BDonline

And I really like this one from the Parisian La Defense Generali Tower - with some vegetated notches in the facade, via World Architecture News. From the distant views, the only disappointment is there isn't enough of these to really make a significant impact on the facade... the seem like a tacked on afterthought.

:: image via WAN

Even more stunning (at least in representation), is the lobby space with vegetated atrium.

:: images via WAN

A smaller-scale example shows a gem from anArchitecture features the Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennial shows the simple structures in illustration and reality: "The pavilion’s exterior is surrounded by 1:1 buildings of greenhouses, an attempt of realizing an idea of the pencil drawings. "These buildings, which are designed with precise structural calculations so they are just barely able to stand, suggest the future possibilities of architecture and therefore pose the basic question: What is architecture? They are extremely delicate greenhouses with an ephemeral physical presence that blend into the environment."

:: images via anArchitecture

And in a final meshing of some interesting visuals - I thought the 56 Leonard Street/HdM project in New York was pretty cool in a Jenga-esque sorta way - but this image kinda cracked me up. The sculpture, by Anish Kapoor - looks like a replay of the Millenium Park Bean (i.e. The Cloud Gate) that had this building unfortunately landed upon - as well as a remnant snippet of the Caixa Forum living wall in the background on the adjacent building.

:: image via Archidose

Friday, September 26, 2008

Eco-Boulevard Redux

Some more on a project I have touched upon this project a bit in a previous post, Eco-Boulevard, from Spanish innovators Ecosistema Urbano. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to delve into some more of the eye-candy from Arch Daily... and definitely don't miss Ecosystem Urbano's great blog as well... which gleans some great urban elements and provides some idea od EU's inspiration and process.

"The whole proposal for the eco-boulevard in Vallecas can be defined as an urban recycling operation consisting of the following actions: insertion of an air tree-social dynamizer, over an existing urbanization area, densification of existing alignment trees and reduction and asymmetric arrangement of wheeled traffic circulation. Superficial interventions reconfiguring the existing urbanization (perforations, fillings, paint, etc.) that defaces the executed kerb development."

:: images via Arch Daily

"Three pavilions or trees of air work as supports open to multiple activities chosen by the users. Installed in the non-city as temporary prostheses, they will be used only until the inactivity and climatic adaptation problem is corrected. Once the necessary time has elapsed, these devices should be taken down and the old premises should remain as clearings in the wood."

:: images via Arch Daily

The descriptions from Arch Daily are great - unlocking some of the info behind the design. There are some duplicates to the previous post I had - but thought I'd repost them for a fuller understanding. The plans are pretty zoomy as well... I don't think I'd seen the illustrative versions of these prior to this...

:: images via Arch Daily

One interesting thing I've noticed is the scale of this development - and really how long of a timeline they have set to acheive canopy closure - based on the coverage of the newly planted plaza trees. This is something where it will be amazing to see intervals of 5, 10, 20 years into the future, as well as what mortality, differential growth, and damage will do to the original concept.

:: images via Arch Daily

And some more dialogue that continues below via Arch Daily: "The air tree is a light structure that is self-sufficient in terms of energy and can be dismantled. It consumes only what it can produce through photovoltaic solar energy collection systems. Selling this energy to the power network generates a superavit on the annual balance sheet and this is reinvested in the maintenance of the structure itself. This is just a model for the management of resources on a project in the course of time."

:: images via Arch Daily

"The use of technology plays on this project a critical and decisive role as it adapts to an authentic and specific context. The architectural potential of technology lies on its reprogramming and combination with other elements, so that true architectural ready-mades are configured. In this case, climatic adaptation techniques normally employed in the farming industry are borrowed."

:: images via Arch Daily

"The simple climatic adaptation systems installed in the trees of air are of the evapotranspirative type, which is often used in greenhouses. This aerotechnical practice or artificial adaptation is not a part of a commercial strategy. On the contrary, it tries to undo the leisure - consumption binomial and reactivate the public space by creating climatically adapted environments (8ºC-10ºC cooler than the rest of the street in summer) where citizens will be once again active participants in public spaces."

:: images via Arch Daily

The details are amazing, and the more I see of this project, the more I like it. It's utter complexity juxtaposed within the simplicity of concept and idea of deconstructability. Imagine 100s of these in urban areas, not just stuck out in some 'air farm' but becoming both the physical and ecological fabric of the city. These have dual function as passive space, display space, and event space as well.

:: images via Arch Daily

And some interesting surprises as well to give some well-rounded experience to users. What looks like a purely functional element on the facade, becomes an artistic lighting element at night.

:: images via Arch Daily

One of my favorite features of Arch Daily is the detail and depth at which they get into projects - not just from a perspective of imagery, but drawings, sections, and information to gain a full understanding of the process and elements that make it work. The other thing - the images are high resolution, so you can get into the design aspects and see how things work (I've shrunk down and/or cropped some of the images on the site - so visit Arch Daily for the high res. versions.) A case in point are some more detailed views of sections of the vegetated screens:

:: images via Arch Daily

And I recently received a review copy of a great book called The Public Chance - from the publishers of of a+t which showcases a number of great international landscape projects (such as Eco-Boulevard). Not just a glossy photo book (although the imagery is awesome), there is deep analysis at work as well - including some fantastic thematic analysis and strategic comparion of elements that allows for study of the elements, scale, and concepts of these projects. Check out their website for a sneak peek, and stay tuned to L+U for a review in the next week or so.

:: Eco-Boulevard Analysis- image via A+T

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Should the Next President Listen to this man?

ArchNewsNow tipped me off to an article by Mitchell Joachim, visionary architect and educator - as well as partner in the non-profit Terreform 1 - a firm whose work has been referenced on L+U previously. The link to a short article on Wired was interesting, and worth reading. As one of the 2008 Smart List, which are billed as one of the 15 People the Next President Should Listen To... Joachim specifically is singled out in terms of Redesigning Cities from Scratch.

:: A face you can trust? - image via Wired

Joachim, who did stints with Michael Sorkin, as well as some high-profile design firms, now, in addition to Terreform 1, teaches at Columbia, where Wired dubs him a '...A kind of Frederick Law Olmsted for the 21st century, he spends most of his time thinking about how to reduce the ecological footprint of cities." Well sorta, but that's some big shoes to fill.

Anyway, who knows what young FLO would be up to if he lived in our age and time - and Joachim definitely has some great ideas and credentials. And FLO didn't have to dealt with cities and automobiles as much - and would probably be railing against the car as a blight to urban living and public health, similar to Joachim (via Wired): "For nearly a century, Joachim says, "cities have been designed around cars. Why not design a car around a city?" So he did just that. One of his concept vehicles, the City Car , was named to Time magazine's Inventions of the Year list in 2007."

:: City Car - image via Time

This imaginative reconfiguring of cites includes major moves to solve major problems. While mostly theoretical, the ideas have a ring of plausibility if there were, say - a political will to incorporate them. One such example: "...reinventing the city doesn't stop at the curb; he's been reimagining just about every part of the modern urban landscape. To help cool Atlanta, Joachim suggests flooding an area of the city now filled with parking lots to create a "munificent pool"--a large pond filled with fish, plants, and algae, surrounded by trees. It would counteract the urban "heat island" effect and process gray water and sewage. The waterworks would be powered by wind turbines."

:: Atlanta of the Future? - image via Wired

As mentioned, his work blends into the vegetated architecture realms at times, and the Terreform 1 work with Sorkin definitely has a verdant tinge to it, such as one of my favorites, the Fab Tree Hab. Mentioned in the article: "Rather than cutting down a tree and transporting it from forest to mill to lumber-yard to building site, the house is the tree. It's the ancient art of "pleaching"--training and joining plants to create structures--with a 21st-century twist, using milling software to achieve precise geometries."

:: images via The Brink Tank

Another reference to a WALL-E-esque garbage urbanism, and you get the point. This carries into a number of works - all very cool proposals and visions for urban areas - including some amazing work and graphic representation techniques. A sample of the veg.itectural (and read more about them at the Terreform 1 site):

:: New York 2106 - image via Terreform 1

:: Future North - image via Terreform 1

:: Green Brain - image via Terreform 1

:: Peristaltic City - image via Terreform 1

So sure, the next president should definitely listen to Mr. Joachim, as well as other innovative thought leaders. Listening is good - and depending on whom gets elected, said listening actually has the potential to be heard, and translated into forward-thinking policy and action. I'm guessing in our currently political/financial state - even if there is a dialogue at world-changing levels - action is still a ways off. A step in the right direction though.