Tag Archives: architecture

‘Urgent Architecture’ Shows Us Housing Designs for a Changing World

Artist, freelance writer, and Inhabitat.com architecture editor Bridgette Meinhold  published an important new book this month, titled “Urgent Architecture: 40 Sustainable Housing Solutions for a Changing World,” which is well worth a read. As excerpted from the book’s profile (via W.W. Norton & Company), “There is an urgent need for safe, sustainable housing designs that are cheap to build, environmentally friendly, and hardy enough to withstand severe environmental conditions. Not only is there climate change to contend with, but there are millions of people, right now, who do not have safe or adequate housing.”

In Urgent Architecture, Bridgette Meinhold showcases 40 successful emergency and long-term housing projects—from repurposed shipping containers to sandbag homes. She surveys successful structures as well as highlighting promising projects that are still being developed. Every one is quickly deployable, affordable, and sustainable. This book is an essential resource for those who are interested in green building, sustainable design, eco-friendly materials, affordable housing, material reuse, and humanitarian relief.

To learn more about or order Urgent Architecture, visit WWNorton.com

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Are Architectural Drawings a Thing of the Past?

Has the computer ended the art of architectural drawing? In a New York Times article by architect and Princeton professor, Michael Graves, he discusses how the computer is transforming how the modern day architect works.

“Architecture cannot divorce itself from drawing, no matter how impressive the technology gets. Drawings are not just end products: they are part of the thought process of architectural design. Drawings express the interaction of our minds, eyes and hands. This last statement is absolutely crucial to the difference between those who draw to conceptualize architecture and those who use the computer.”

In the early 1960s, Graves won the Rome Prize and spent two years at the American Academy in Rome. Michael Graves' drawings of (Left) St. Peter's in Rome, 1962, and (Right) Drawing of Santi Nome di Maria in Rome, 1961.

Graves argues that there is purpose to drawing and not just to create a pretty picture. He argues that architectural drawing can be divided into three types: “referential sketch,” the “preparatory study” and the “definitive drawing.”

“The referential sketch serves as a visual diary, a record of an architect’s discovery. It can be as simple as a shorthand notation of a design concept or can describe details of a larger composition. The second type of drawing, the preparatory study, is typically part of a progression of drawings that elaborate a design.The definitive drawing, the final and most developed of the three, is almost universally produced on the computer nowadays, and that is appropriate.”

Graves believes that “drawing by hand stimulates the imagination and allows us to speculate about ideas, a good sign that we’re truly alive.”

Do you think the art of drawing is dead?

Images: New York Times

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LEGO Turns 80: How the Toy has Affected Architecture

If you ask an architect what inspired them to choose that profession, almost all (or according to a study – 99 percent) will say they recall playing with their LEGO bricks as a child.

The LEGO Group, which turns 80 today, can look back onto an impressive success story – from 1932 to today. The company, founded by Ole Kirk Christiansen as a production company for wooden toys in the Danish city of Billund, has moved from the originally small workshop back in 1932, to become the third largest producer of play materials in the world. At the end of the 1940s, the first bricks hit the market, which resemble the modern classic of today. In 1958 Christiansen perfected the LEGO brick with the familiar knobs-and-tubes-connecting-system, which is what the now 3,120 different LEGO elements are still based on. It is currently represented in more than 130 countries with approx. 10,000 employees.

But while the influence of LEGO on architects may be self-evident, not many know about architecture’s contribution to LEGO. Only through the lens of architecture can you truly understand why LEGO holds the name as “The Toy of the Century.”

Architect Adam Reed Tucker’s LEGO creations for the National Building Museum’s exhibition “Towering Ambition.”

In the 1960s, Modern style became popular in America. LEGO Group challenged its designers to invent a set of components that would add a new dimension to LEGO building. They decided on a smaller LEGO brick that made it possible to construct far more intricate models than ever before. Soon after 1962, the LEGO ‘Scale Model’ line, directly inspired by the work of architects and engineers, was born.

As the Washington Post puts it, the LEGO brick was the perfect toy for its age, “ideally suited to an era of rapid and seemingly infinite economic expansion.” During the time when Modernist skyscrapers touched city skylines, an infinite combination of LEGOs rose to great heights in our childhood bedrooms. This is what makes LEGO so inspiring – that first, tempting taste of what it could be like to dream and build boldly in addition to the possibility and wonder of architecture itself.

Fun Facts:
The LEGO Group can boast that there are approximately 62 LEGO bricks for ever person on earth.
The name “LEGO” comes from the two Danish words “leg” and “godt”, which translates to “play well”.

Photos: Washington Post, LEGO

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World’s Best Cities for Architecture Lovers

Condé Nast Traveler chose 14 cities – some well known, some surprising – from around the world that embody certain eras of architecture and give travelers access to real life (and free!) design exibits. Check out the 14 that made the list:

  1. Miami, Florida, USA [Art Deco]
  2. Mason City, Iowa, USA [Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School]
  3. Tel Aviv, Israel [Bauhaus]
  4. Seattle, Washington, USA [American Arts & Crafts]
  5. Chandigarh, India [Mid-Century Modernism]
  6. Florence, Italy [Renaissance]
  7. Barcelona, Spain [Gaudís Art Nouveau]
  8. Istanbul, Turkey [Byzantine/Ottoman]
  9. Columbus, Indiana, USA [Modernism and Post-Modernism]
  10. Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, New York, USA [Victorian]
  11. Dubai, United Arab Emirates [Contemporary]
  12. Marrakech, Morocco [Moorish Architecture]
  13. Oxford, England [Gothic Revival]
  14. Portland, Oregon, USA [Green Architecture]

Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, NY

Picture 1 of 13


Photos: Condé Nast Traveler

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The Best Examples of College Architecture

Some colleges and universities may not be known for their architecture, but it’s these 50 architectural examples, as chosen by Top Colleges Online, that make their campuses some of the most loved in the country. Students are more satisfied with their college experience when they love their campus, and with buildings like these, what’s not to love? Here are a few of my favorites:

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