Category Archives: Design

Heineken WOBO: When Beer and Architecture Met

ArchDaily recently discussed the WOBO – World Bottle – an idea realized by brewing mogul, Alfred Heineken, that would benefit both the beer drinker and the homeless.

Upon visiting Curaçao during a world tour of his factories in 1960, Alfred Heineken was struck by two things: the beaches were littered with beer bottles – many bearing his name – and there was a shortage of affordable building materials, which meant the lower-classes were consigned to poor quality housing.

World Bottle 1

In a stroke of either genius or madness, Heineken realized that both problems would be solved if people could build their houses with his beer bottles. Intent on realizing his vision, he enlisted Dutch architect N. John Habraken to design a glass brick that he could also sell beer in.

World Bottle 3

While Habraken’s first few attempts were dismissed for either being too costly and difficult to produce or not pretty enough to sell beer in, he eventually settled on the design known as the Heineken WOBO (World Bottle) – a piece of emerald green glassware tailor made to serve as both a beer bottle and a building material.

In 1963, the brewery produced a test run of 100,000 bottles. The design was, of course, first and foremost a functioning beer bottle, but when emptied and laid on its side, it became a self-aligning, interlocking, glass brick. With this design, a basic 10×10 foot hut could be built using one-thousand bricks.

World Bottle 4

Despite its shortcomings, the concept was revolutionary; as author and architecture critic Martin Pawley describes, it was “the first mass production container ever designed from the outset for secondary use as a building component”. Heineken was so insistant that they be used as bricks that he planned on printing building instructions on the side each bottle. Habraken even suggested shipping the bottles on special plastic pallets which could be reused as roofing.

World Bottle 5

The idea unfortunately fell from the spotlight and, despite a brief resurgence of interest in the 1970′s, only two of structures were ever built: a small glass hut and a shed – both of which were retrofitted with WOBO walls located on the Heineken estate in Noordwijk near Amsterdam. The bottles themselves are few and far-between today, and instead of being the mass affordable building material they were intended to be, they have become rare collectors items.

Images: ArchDaily

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David Rockwell Drew on Personal TedTalk Experience to Design the Next Chapter Theater for TED2014

TED celebrated its 30th anniversary by moving the annual TED Conference from Long Beach to a temporary theater installed within the Vancouver Convention Center.  Designed by David Rockwell of The Rockwell Group, The Next Chapter Theater is a portable 1,200-seat theater that was designed to enhance the speaker and audience experience, and will be reinstalled in the years ahead.

“I have spoken [at TED] and have had that experience of: your talk is influenced by how you feel in the room. The environment affects how the talk evolves,” says Rockwell.

David Rockwell’s talk at TED2002 on the memorial at Ground Zero influenced his design of The Next Chapter Theater.

The bowl of the theater is steeply raked to ensure that in a room of 1,200, the farthest distance from the speaker is a mere 80 feet, helping the speaker better see and feel the audience’s reactions and allowing audience members to immerse themselves more deeply in the talks.  By comparison, Hollywood’s Ford Amphitheater, which is lauded for its intimacy, has a 96-foot distance from the farthest seat to the stage.

“TED is a combination of theater and festival,” says Rockwell, “…we’re creating from scratch a theater designed around a talk. [It’s] like going back to the roots of theater. No one’s done a theater solely based on a talk.”

The intimate TED2014 theater was built in just under a week and was constructed from 600 modular boxes and flooring and furniture donations from Shaw Hospitality Group and Steelcase.  The carpet is from Shaw Hospitality Group’s Layered Luxe collection, which was also designed in collaboration from Rockwell.

Read more about the construction of the TED2014 Next Chapter Theater here.

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Popping up at TED 2014: Shaw Hospitality Group’s Layered Luxe

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The 2014 TED conference housed attendees at its new pop-up theater – designed to be rapidly assembled and disassembled annually.  Constructed in a six-day feat of logistics, this innovative structure relied on the capabilities and trust of manufacturers, fabricators and installation crews.

A total of 600 modular boxes were built in a warehouse in Vancouver, then shipped to the site. All had to be made strong enough to give the theater structural stability, but light and small enough for workers to move them around and to fit through 12-foot wide doors.  The assembly took six days and two crews of 30, each working 12-hour shifts on an hour-by-hour deployment plan to construct the structure.

The theater’s furniture, shipped from Steelcase, was installed in only 12 hours.  Designer David Rockwell relied on Shaw Hospitality Group for the carpet – not only to manufacture and ship the material in time for the event, but also for the design.  On the floor is “Crease” from the Layered Luxe Collection, which was designed in collaboration with Rockwell himself.

Watch a time lapse video of the construction of the Next Chapter Theater at TED2014.

TED2014 Theater Timelapse from Rockwell Group on Vimeo.

A theater that can be dissembled, stored and reassembled in future years seems to make sense for TED Conference, where the world’s most thought provoking and captivating speakers on technology, entertainment and design converge.

Read more about the design of the TED2014 Next Chapter Theater here.

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MASS Design Goes Beyond the Building

‘Beyond the Building’ speaks to the core values we have held since MASS began five years ago. Their 2014 theme articulates the end goal of their projects: that they work within communities to improve lives through architecture. They do that through architecture’s processes, but in our own way: local partners and materials, sustained economic impact, and better health through design.

MASS Design has seen that architecture is much more than buildings. Join them this year as we think #beyondthebuilding. Learn more at MASSDesignGroup.org.

Beyond The Building from MASS Design Group on Vimeo.

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Help NASA Pick the New Z-2 Space Suit Design

NASA’s Z-2 Suit is the newest prototype in its next-generation spacesuit platform, the Z-series. As a follow-up to the previous Z-1 suit, which was named one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2012, the Z-2 takes the next step in fidelity approaching a final flight-capable design. Most exciting, the Z-2 marks several milestones for NASA, including the first use of 3D human laser scans and 3D-printed hardware for suit development and sizing and the most conformal and re-sizeable hard upper torso suit built to date.

After the positive response to the Z-1 suit’s visual design, the designers wanted to take the opportunity to provide this new suit with an equally memorable appearance. To take it a step further, they are leaving it up to the public to choose which of three candidates will be built. Check out the options below and cast your vote HERE!

NASA_Biomimicry

Option A: “Biomimicry”
The “Biomimicry” design draws from an environment with many parallels to the harshness of space: the world’s oceans. Mirroring the bioluminescent qualities of aquatic creatures found at incredible depths, and the scaly skin of fish and reptiles found across the globe, this design reflects the qualities that protect some of Earth’s toughest creatures.

NASA_Technology

Option B: “Technology”
“Technology” pays homage to spacesuit achievements of the past while incorporating subtle elements of the future. By using Luminex wire and light-emitting patches, this design puts a new spin on spacewalking standards such as ways to identify crew members.

NASA_Trends in Society

Option C: “Trends in Society”
“Trends in Society” is based off of just that: being reflective of what every day clothes may look like in the not too distant future. This suit uses electroluminescent wire and a bright color scheme to mimic the appearance of sportswear and the emerging world of wearable technologies.

VOTE for your favorite!

Images: NASA

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