Its been a while since there have been any video’s in the neighbourhood video series so I I figured that I would highlight a video of one of our old favourites. Squint/Opera
In the modern period, there has scarcely been a single pilgrim to Mecca from overseas who has not made a stop-over at Jeddah—an important port, a place of recuperation, the best place to buy souvenirs and the essentials, both personal and religious, one will need in the course of the Hajj.
squint/operas film for the redevelopment of Jeddah Central District describes a project of six million square metres, the largest city centre project in the Arab world. The narrative explains the historical importance of the city and makes the case for a sympathetic development, aiming to revitalize the citys architectural and social inheritance whilst protecting its utterly unique character.
Archive photographs and pictorial representations of the city animated by subtly shifting two-dimensional planes give way to a long, and thoroughly impossible, tracking shot in which the viewers gaze seems to be the cause of a spectacular regeneration: dilapidated buildings are renovated, roads healed, trees and shades descend to provide comfort in public spaces.
The viewer is ushered through the project by points of focus serving the films narrative and explanatory elements. A GPS map in a taxi-boat shows an image of the future; an architects model is suddenly scaled to a size where a businessman can open the door of his paper car to be driven into a completed and entirely populated city.
squint/operas trademarks of combining the live and the computer-generated, telling and frequently amusing details and narrative coherence are all present.
The big question today in Tennessee is whether or not libertarian fire services should be an option. Last week firefighters watched a house burn because the owners had neglected to pay the 75$ annual subscription fee for fire protection. The optional aspect of fire coverage comes from the fact that the property that burnt down is not within the city limits where the citizens automatically pay for fire protection with their taxes, its a rural property outside the city that provides users outside South Fulton with the option to ‘opt in’ to rural fire service by paying a 75$ annual subscription. In this case the property owner hadn’t done so. Thus leading to the scene wherein the firefighters were on site to protect the neighbours but did nothing to protect the owners.
What do you think? Should there a be a good Samaritan clause? Or is the fire department and town right to let the place burn? A debate has been rageing on the Internet about whether the city was right to let the house burn or not. What do you think?
The situation is this: The city of South Fulton’s fire department, until a few years ago, would not respond to any fires outside of the city limits — which is to say, the city limited its jurisdiction to the city itself, and to city taxpayers. A reasonable position. Then, a few years ago, a fire broke out in a rural area that was not covered bythe city fire department, and the city authorities felt bad about not being able to do anything to help. So they began to offer an opt-in service, for the very reasonable price of $75 a year. Which is to say: They greatly expanded the range of services they offer. The rural homeowners were, collectively, better off, rather than worse off. Before the opt-in program, they had no access to afire department. Now they do.
And, for their trouble, the South Fulton fire department is being treated as though it has done something wrong, rather than having gone out of its way to make services available to people who did not have them before. The world is full of jerks, freeloaders, and ingrates — and the problems they create for themselves are their own. These free-riders have no more right to South Fulton’s firefighting services than people in Muleshoe, Texas, have to those of NYPD detectives.
Vowell explained that the property owner was not a paying member of the rural fire subscription service offered to county residents by the City of South Fulton. He said as per city policy, established by city ordinance, the call was declined and the city’s fire department could not respond.
“I have no problem with the way any of my people handled the situation. They did what they were supposed to do,” he said. “It’s a regrettable situation any time something like this happens.”
He said the South Fulton Fire Department did respond to a request to protect the property of the adjacent property owner, who is a member of the rural fire subscription service.
Vowell said county residents do not have guaranteed fire service since there is no countywide fire department to cover rural areas, but many municipalities offer rural fire coverage to residents in specified coverage areas for a nominal annual fee. South Fulton’s fee is $75.
However, Vowell said residents in those rural areas cannot be forced to pay the fee and it’s their decision whether to accept the coverage.
Vowell said people always think they will never be in a situation where they will need rural fire protection, but he said City of South Fulton personnel actually go above and beyond in trying to offer the service. He said the city mails out notices to customers in the specified rural coverage area, with coverage running from July 1 of one year to July 1 the next year.
At the end of the enrollment month of July, the city goes a step further and makes phone calls to rural residents who have not responded to the mail-out.
“These folks were called and notified,” Vowell said. “I want to make sure everybody has the opportunity to get it and be aware it’s available. It’s been there for 20 years, but it’s very important to follow up.”
Mayor Crocker added, “It’s my understanding with talking with the firefighters that these folks had received their bill and they had also contacted them by phone.”
Employees call it the “Vdara death ray,” although a spokesman for MGM Resorts preferred to call it a “solar convergence” S
Essentially what happens is similar to a solar camp stove, for those of you that remember your boy scout training ( I guess these architects were too busy at math camp). The sun beams bounce off of the concave facade of the Vdara Hotel at CityCenter and travel in a focused beam across the hotel’s pool area. On a clear day this beam can singe hair and melt drinking cups as it travels poolside. Apparently designers predicted this problem and put a high-tech film on the building glass but it appears to be safe to say that the film was ineffective.
So let this be a lesson to all you Architects out there, the best way to avoid burning people with your buildings is to design smart, and not use a band-aid or ‘film’ to fix the problem.
“The environmental ambitions of the Masdar Initiative – zero carbon and waste free – are a world first. They have provided us with a challenging design brief that promises to question conventional urban wisdom at a fundamental level. Masdar promises to set new benchmarks for the sustainable city of the future.” Norman Foster of Foster + Partners
I remember seeing a post about Masdar in the past, back during the height of the Dubai construction orgies when it seemed like every week there was a new project coming out that was fantastic this, super-sized that! Given that I had a bit of an anti Dubai stance, (take a look back at the Dubai tag and you will see how little attention I paid to it) I have to admit that I wrote Masdar off as just another mega project of a dubious nature. Well it seems that I am now playing catch up on this project as it is in fact being built and it is a significant chapter in the development of new sustainable cities. My attention was re-piqued after a colleague of mine sent me a link to a New York Times article in the Critic’s Notebook about the opening of the first phase of Masdar. They also have an awesome photo slide show given that they were able to fly a photographer over there.
The New York Times takes issue with the fact that the city is at this point essentially a gated community and identity is not helped by its construction techniques. Visitors to the city drive through the desert until they reach the blank wall of the city. While the city wall has a function and basis in sustainable design; enabling the raised city to capture desert breezes and regulate transportation functions to its lower level. It reinforces the perception that this is a city for elites, and not a city for every one. Of course given that the city just opened and its first residents are only now moving in the government (who happens to be the landlord) still has time to make sure that the city houses a cross section of society.
Upon arrival to the city a visitor must leave their car at a parking garage just inside the city’s edge. All transportation functions within the city are covered by a fleet of driver less cars that navigate through a series of tunnels at ground level, below the main pedestrian level of the city 23 feet above. Once the transportation system comes online a fleet of hundreds of personal transportation pods that have been likened to the transportation pods in 2001: A Space Oddessy will transport people and goods around the city by following the destination commands inputted by users through a simple LCD screen interface. It’s a method of separating circulation functions that Le Corbuiser first envisioned and would have loved to employ in many of his residential projects.
The design aesthetic for the city is a combination of modernism and traditional aribic architecture. Laboratories and office spaces are predominantly hosted in large concrete buildings that have been clad in panels of ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene. Residential buildings tend towards the traditional and appear similar to the Terra Cotta construction techniques found across the Middle East.
By way of design the city aims to tackle one of the biggest issues in the modern day Middle East; obesity. Elevators from the lower levels are tucked out of sight behind stairwells, and on the main level the only way to get around is by foot. It’s a design response to the growing problem of obesity in the Middle East as anyone can afford to travel by car to escape the heat does so. The city also uses traditional wind towers to funnel winds down to street level, and orients the streets at an angle to the suns trajectory in order to maximize shade. On top of all of these features the city is also aiming to be one of the first truly solar cities.
Some of the public spaces will also feature reactive architecture: international architectural firm LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture) won an international design competition for its proposal to utilize a series of giant umbrellas base on the sunflower principle that open during the day to provide shade, store heat, and then close during the night opening the public squares to the sky and releasing their stored heat.
It is impossible to see the city as anything other than visionary in the way it approaches new city building. While the Times is correct to raise questions about its utopian purity and its creation in isolation from the real city that lives next door, the Times also ignores the fact that brand new from scratch cities is a reality for the next century. Experts agree that in order to handle the world’s growing population at least 20 new cities will need to be constructed, predominantly in the Asia, Africa and the Middle East in order to handle the world’s growing a urban population. In Korea New Songdo is being used as a test case for a fully wired its city, and in the middle east Masdar is most definitely a test case for a carbon neutral city that responds to the constraints of its environment. It is entirely likely that future cities combine the lessons learned from both in their construction.
From Foster + Partner’s Website:
The Masdar Institute
The Masdar Institute (MI) is the first part of the wider Masdar City Master-plan to be realized and creates a focus for the entire programme, as well as setting the context for subsequent development. Initially, five MSc programmes will be established and as well as undertaking research with MIT, Masdar faculty members will be able to work within the Masdar Research Network. The MI campus embodies the principles and goals of the Masdar City Master-plan to create a prototypical and sustainable city, one in which residents and commuters can enjoy the highest quality of life with the lowest environmental footprint. All developments within the city are to be carbon neutral and zero waste.
The buildings are oriented to provide optimum shade and reduce cooling loads. Shaded colonnades at podium level exploit the benefits of exposed thermal mass and transitional thermal spaces are integrated to mediate between internal and external zones. Facades are designed to respond to their orientation and photovoltaic installations on every roof are combined with carefully positioned photovoltaic panels to shade streets and buildings. Green linear parks adjacent to the buildings capture cooling night-time winds, with wind gates employed to control hot winds. The ventilation strategy for the streets and night time cooling is further enhanced by wind towers and courtyards.
Pedestrian circulation is primarily at podium deck level, where a shaded route throughout the campus is provided. The buildings within MI are made up primarily of laboratories and residential accommodation, supported by a gymnasium, canteen, café, library and landscaped areas that contribute to the campus environment and forge a new destination within the city. The laboratories – and the interactive laboratory space – are at the heart of the development and offer the optimum flexible, column free space possible within the strict loading and vibration criteria. The residential element further integrates the principles of the master-plan and provides one, two and three bedroom apartments in low-rise, high-density blocks. These complete the master-plan street-scape and urban form, while acting as a social counterpoint to the intense laboratory environment. Source
In the urban planning and development industries, infill is the use of land within a built-up area for further construction, especially as part of a community redevelopment or growth management program or as part of smart growth. It focuses on the reuse and repositioning of obsolete or underutilized buildings and sites. This type of development is essential to renewing blighted neighborhoods and knitting them back together with more prosperous communities. Wiki
The city is an every changing, ever evolving thing. Businesses and buildings come and go as needs and uses evolve. The St Henri neighbourhood in Montreal QC has been on a gradual progression to more a more genteel state and as part of this a number of lots in the area are being redeveloped, when I first moved to town 130 St Philippe was a friendly automotive garage that helped boost my car one winter when the battery died. However as time in this neighbourhood rolls on and property values increase the real estate that the garage was sitting on became a little more valuable then its use as a secondary parking lot for cars waiting to be fixed. 130 St Philippe is actually the back half of a larger project that started over on Rue St Marguerite, but I didn’t manage to catch any construction photos for that half of the site.
Infill can be a tricky proposition as in many ways it is simply the less maligned form of gentrification, people often ignore it in the debate as it is usually the creation of something new versus the property inflation of something that was already there, but the effects are usually the same. Personally I take the long view on gentrification and the life cycle of cities. Most neighbourhoods that are poor were at one time wealthy and a lot of neighbourhoods that are wealthy will become poor at some point in their lifespan, and eventually cycle back to wealthy, (I am looking at you Harlem.) The city is not a static entity and must be allowed to adjust itself. I just wish that more cities had effective and well funded property development arms so as to take advantage of infill sites in neighbourhoods when they are on the low swing to provide affordable housing. This particular street is a great example of how the Société d‘habitation et de développement de Montréal took advantage of the downswing in Saint Henri, (When I first moved here most reactions were that I had moved into the hood) as there are already two low income apartment buildings and two affordable housing multi unit properties on this block. These will help insure that with the pendulum swinging back up, i.e. gentrification, that is happening in St Henri now, there will still be a mix of income levels as the bourgeoisie move in.
This project was put together by Groupe Vistacorp, Vistacorp is a property developer here in Montreal that specializes in residential properties and based on their website and project break down appears to develop two to three sites at a time. While the website doesn’t specifically state it, the company appears to specialize in infill and has a construction roll out that is reactive and flexible to the economic climate based on the number of units that they put on the market in a given year.
I was only able to get my hands on a couple of the unit plans by casting about in darkness of the Internet (think randomly adjusting page IDs) as the majority of the condo’s have already been sold. S Whatever your perspective on Infill stay tuned for future additions to the Saint Henri Infill Series as Vistacorp has already started the prep-work for the lot across the street.
If you have ever wanted to change your neighbours without having to buy a new house then Canal living may be for you. Rost Nidereche Archiects has designed a houseboat that is moored on the Eibek-canal in Hamburg Germany. The boat is a blend of clean wooden lines and modern design.
Over a period of three years, the stencil artist Peter Gibson, aka Roadsworth, made his mark on Montreal in the early hours of the morning by launching a self-described “attack on the streets.” Armed with spray paint and handmade stencils, he began to play with the language of the streets, overlaying city asphalt markings with his own images: a crosswalk became a giant boot print, vines choked up traffic dividers, and electrical plugs filled parking spots. Each piece begged the question, Who owns public space?
Photographer Adam Magyar provides us a series of birds eye photographs of pedestrians crossing public areas in Hong Kong and Tokyo. Pedestrians in clusters, on their own, and sometimes even in neat little rows. Check out his series entitled ‘Squares’ on his website for more.
For years buildings have been covered with imagery; signs, graffiti, and advertisements are commonplace on the sides of buildings, but something new is about to happen in Melbourne Australia. The city has a proposal for a building that is itself an image. A 32 storey apartment block proposed as part of the development on the former Carlton & United Brewery site in Melbourne Australia, named the Portrait building will feature an architectural first, the contouring of the building’s balconies and the play of light and shade will feature the face of indigenous leader William Barak when viewed from the correct angle.
It is an ingenious idea really, while other buildings have featured screen prints of landscapes, think Bjarke Ingles Mountain Dwellings, and others have featured contoured balconies like the Aqua building this building will be the first to combine the two if completed in 2014.
The best line of sight for viewing the image will be from the Shrine of Remembrance, Victoria’s largest and most visited war memorial which is approximately 3 km away. When viewed from close up the building will simply appear to have an oddly contoured facade. The portrait will be created using a number of horizontal white panels that have been cut to make Mr Barak’s face to appear via positive and negative space. The panels will be distanced from the balconies themselves so that residents will not accidentally make Mr Barak appear to cry by hanging a towel in the wrong place.
The building design is by Australian architecture firm ARM and its principal architects; Steve Ashton, Howard Raggatt, and Ian McDougall. The brewery project is a five building development by Australian firm Grocon who is firmly behind paying tribute to an important figure in Australian history. Grocon’s representative for the Carlton Brewery site, David Waldren states: ”That technique and that idea has not been delivered anywhere in the world before to the best of our knowledge. It is a world first.” … ”It’s not meant to be that from every angle you will get the perfect image of it; it’s that you will get the perfect image in glimpses.” Mr Grollo, and by extension Grocon see the building as an important social statement, and have received the blessing of both the Wurundjeri elders and the trustees of the Shrine of Remembrance. S
William Barak (c. 1824 – 15 August 1903), was the last traditional ngurungaeta (elder) of the Wurundjeri tribe, which was based around the area of present-day Melbourne, Australia. He became an influential spokesman for Aboriginal social justice and is considered to have been instrumental in bridging the gap between aboriginal and white cultures. Barak is now best remembered for his artworks, which show both traditional Indigenous life and encounters with Europeans. wiki
The ARM architecture firm has attempted buildings with portraits on their facades in the past, the Dupain Building and 347 Camberwell Road however, neither of these projects were completed. Currently the Portrait Building is still in the planning approval process, so we can only hope that it will not meet the same fate.
As an urban planning student who has been involved in a number of planning studio’s 3D modelling often cames up as necessary evil. While when putting together presentations and proposals for assorted studio classes there is no rule that says you have to have a 3D model, the presentations that get all the ooohhs and ahhs are the presentations that have 3D models. Of course the problem with creating a 3D model for an urban planning studio presentation is that the majority of the programs that can be utilized to create these models are incredibly complex and hard to use. Often times the modelling program is too simple, or to complicated for the task at hand. Any student who has done an introductory class in urban design is made familiar with Google SketchUp, and is often forced to curse their way through modelling a city block, pushing and pulling a city block into existence from the most recent CAD file that the university has in its database. Later we graduate to ArcGIS and its shape files (which tend to get pushed back to SketchUp,) or for those who really want to marry their computers for a semester AutoCAD with a healthy sprinkling of Photoshop also tend to make an appearance.
The thing is that these programs are not exactly easy to use when it comes to modelling the urban environment, alternatively too simple or overly complicated its easy to get buried in shape files, axis’ and vectors when all you want to do is draw a street. Enter CityEngine 2010.
CityEngine 2010 is an intuitive city modelling program that makes me want to weep a little when I think back on all the hours I spent labouring over shape files in ArcGIS. Often these labours just end up looking like little more then basic block forms with no detail once exported out of their respective programs. Check out Turcot Quartier Eco Santé or Corridor Of Life – Ave du Parc LRT Proposal to see what I mean.
The demo for CityEngine 2010 shows how easy with it is with a couple of clicks to draw a city block and play with everything from the street width, to the age and design details of the buildings that just pop into your city blocks as you click them into existence.
In their own words some of the features include:
Dynamic City Layouts
The new dynamic city layouts of CityEngine allow for full-fledged live editing of street networks. An intuitive tool-set is provided to design, draw and modify urban layouts consisting of (curved) streets, blocks and parcels. Street construction or block subdivision is controlled via parametric interfaces, giving immediate visual feedback
Node-based Rule Editing
With the new node-based rule editor, users can create procedural buildings by manipulating rules graphically rather than by specifying them textually. Thus, even users without scripting knowledge can now unleash the unlimited power of procedural modelling – without being restricted to pre-defined typologies or designs.
Advanced Block Subdivision
Along with the dynamic city layouts an advanced block subdivision method is provided. With the new offset subdivision and corner generation, so-called Barcelona blocks can now be easily created via parametric control. Furthermore, manual attribute changes are preserved and unaffected by street or block manipulations.
While at the moment the 149$ student price tag is not yet in my budget… not because it isn’t a great deal when I consider the time to cost ratio (basically 10 hours of work,) and all the time I spent using other less user friendly programs, I had better pay for my tuition and books first. For now it goes on my wish list, either as a Christmas present or maybe someone in the marketing department at Procedural Inc. would send me a copy so I can write a full review!
Metropolis magazine calls for a new type of water infrastructure since most of it needs to be replaced anyway.
The Cleveland Rowing Foundation closes a deal to create Rivergate Park.
On the subject of Cleveland the city commissions architect Miguel Rosales to build three pedestrian bridges.
Minneapolis St Paul unveils the I35W memorial garden.
In testimony to the fact that china can truly make anything bigger and better comes the 100km long and 9 days running traffic jam on the road from Beijing to Huai’an in the southeast. S
A spokesman for the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau has reportedly released a statement to China’s ‘Global Times’ newspaper that the traffic jam has come about as a result of “insufficient traffic capacity… caused by maintenance construction.” According to reports the traffic jam started on the 14th of August and could last for a while. Evidently there was another traffic jam in July that lasted for almost a month.
So next time you get frustrated because traffic delays for an hour or two, consider yourself lucky that you haven’t been stuck in a traffic jam for days!
Hopefully this encourages more people in China to leave the car at home and support public transit. The people who did, surprisingly enough made it to their destinations on schedule.
“Like the statues of Easter Island, it is envisioned that these one hundred and fifty foot tall, modern caryatids will take on a quiet authority, belonging to their landscape yet serving the people, silently transporting electricity across all terrain, day and night, sunshine or snow.”
Choi + Shine Architects have come up with an innovative and artistic way for us to move power across the landscape by turning the massive power lines that cross our world into massive pylon figures that will become monuments in the landscape, rather then utilitarian towers.
I have long been a fan and advocate for monumental infrastructure. Consider your reaction to the great monuments that exist in our world at present and to those portrayed in film. Then consider your reaction to major infrastructure as an aesthetic object. To often the major structures that we use are utilitarian, strictly functional, visual pollution on the landscape. These are wasted opportunities for us to build structures that are a monumental testament to human creativity and show the beauty that we are capable of producing.
Like the statues of Easter Island, it is envisioned that these one hundred and fifty foot tall, modern caryatids will take on a quiet authority, belonging to their landscape yet serving the people, silently transporting electricity across all terrain, day and night, sunshine or snow.
The firm states that with only minor changes to current established steel-framed tower design, they have built a series of towers that are not only powerful and solemn, but also variable. This makes it possible for the figures to be shaped into different ‘poses’ which they suggest could be informed by the landscape around them. The manufacturing process is less complex then you think. With each pylon figure made from the same basic materials they can be assembled into a variety of positions simply by using different joints.
“Subtle alterations in the hands and head combined with repositioning of the main body parts in the x, y and z-axis, allow for a rich variety of expressions. The pylon-figures can be placed in pairs, walking in the same direction or opposite directions, glancing at each other as they pass by or kneeling respectively, head bowed at a town.”
|Project Type||High-Voltage Pylon Competition
|Type of Client||Landsnet, a public company that owns and runs the electrical transmission system in Iceland where 80% of the electricity is from green sustainable sources, such as geothermal power.|
|New or Renovation||New – Pylon design competition.|
|Special constraints & site description||The pylons were intended to be constructible, affordable and durable.|
|Design challenges & solutions||We sought to make an iconic, unforgettable pylon, that created an identity for Iceland and the power company.|
|Original/Adaptation||The design is original.|
|Unusual/innovative building components||Each structure is composed of a kit of parts, minimizing construction costs.|
|Sustainable design elements||The structure is predominantly recyclable.|
|Material use||Steel, glass and concrete.|
|Designed by||Jin Choi & Thomas Shine, Choi+Shine Architects.|
Dorchester Square in downtown Montreal has spent most of the past two years behind a fence getting a make over. The square was originally inaugurated in 1878 and has four statues and a kiosk that are arranged to form a five point cross. Originally the Catholic Sainte-Antoine Cemetery for victims of the 1851 Cholera Epidemic, the majority of the bodies were later exhumed and moved to the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery on the Northwestern side of Mont Royal.
The square was long one of the cities preeminent park spaces due to its location adjacent to a number of high profile projects that were built in the late 1800s, the construction of the Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral (started 1875 and consecrated in 1894) and the Windsor Hotel (completed in 1878) The construction of the Sun Life Building (completed 1931), Windsor Station (completed 1889), and the Dominion Square building; solidified its status. For many years it has been the centre of the central business district in downtown montreal. In later years the park suffered from a lack of maintenance and the city of Montreal undertook a major renovation to bring the square back to its former glory.
Since I work in the previously mentioned Sun Life Building I stepped out the other day to take some pictures. Of particular interest to note are the cross patterns randomly scattered through the paving stones. According to the city of Montreal spokesperson Philippe Sabourin, they were included as a reference to the park’s past as a cemetery and are only found in parts of the park that made up that parcel of land, which is why you wont find any up in the Northern end. The city has further renovation plans next year for the Northern parcel where the loading and unloading area known as Rue Dorchester Square and the kiosk sit. Rue Dorchester Square is the main loading and unloading stage for the majority of the Tourist buses dropping off shoppers and tourists who visit nearby Rue Saint Catherine.