This Jenga puzzle of a building is the proposed design of John Beckmann and his firm, Axis Mundi, for the much-discussed 53 W. 53rd site for the New York City’s Museum of Modern Art planned expansion. The building’s design is an homage to the works of art that will be housed in the new building, its concept a way of outward expression as well as a method for organizing the tall building as a sort of “Vertical Neighborhood.” As inhabitat explains Vertical Neighborhoods, imagine taking a row of several city blocks, rip them off their foundation, turn them on their sides, stack, and voila.
Unlike the traditional school of thought of a stand alone museum, Axis Mundi’s MoMA Vertical Neighborhood mixes and mingles museum space, offices, brownstones, apartment buildings, hotels, restaurants, shops, green spaces, and clubs. In essence a person could live on one floor, which just happens sit above a gallery of priceless works of art, and in the morning, walk the open air corridors and vista bridges to another floor or few to their office, and that even make their way to, say, the third floor to buy groceries to take home — all without ever having to leave the building.
But unlike similar designs — designs such as this are popular in Japan and exist in Manhattan — and their otherwise conventionally industrial, slick design meant to reflect uniformity and cohesion, Axis Mundi’s design reflects the cultural diversity of the city and its inhabitants.
Because of the jenga block-like construction, calld “Smart Blocks,” a myriad of configurations are possible. Meaning single units can exist next to duplexes while holding up triplexes. The units can shift in and out. And each block can be constructed with its own unique surface texture — think floor to ceiling windows spanning three floors in one, next to a single floor unit in wood slatting, underneath a duplex with a concrete veneer, parallel to a living vertical garden.
Gilding came across an article on Kowloon Walled City, in Hong Kong, last night and while ruminating the things she remembered about it to her husband, she directed him to the post she was sure she made on it — only to not find it on Gilding the Lily any damn where. Was it a lost post? A subject she made note to post on but never got around to it? And while searching today for information on the city it donned on her that perhaps there was no gilded post because the subject, quite frankly, was overly posted, overly talked about, and seemed even a little too gilded already to worry about gilding any further on here.
But after reading article after article and post after bloody friekin’ blog post, Gilding had about had it with all the Western World whining about the fetid decay and inhuman living conditions of the city; its brow-beaten, finger wagged damnation of its very existence.
She had decided by that point that she wouldn’t post on this Walled City and that perhaps this current feeling of disgust, both for the city and the continued reports on it, was what had in fact prevented her original posting on it.
Then she came across this site, and it was one paragraph that caught her attention:
“U.S. News & World Report made a brief notice of the demolition of KWC a few months previous to the actual event. Their description of the city is indicative of outsider’s perceptions about a place, a place not fitting into their ideas of normal, urban living. Although their physical portrayal of the city is accurate – “alleys choked with rubbish, rat-infested alleys and dark stairwells” – the article makes judgments based on these characteristics and ignores that a thriving community survived for over half a century. In fact much of the physical problems that gave the walled city its notoriety were, and are, problems in the rest of Hong Kong (and other world cities); the walled city merely exaggerated these conditions. As KWC, in the piece, is called, “a fetid conglomeration of 359 tenement buildings…[festering] on a 7-acre plot” and, “the cancer of Kowloon” the reader has little choice but to believe the city was an unlivable slum, not a self-organized community (the former implying a second-party perpetuating bad conditions for selfish gain). For people who lived in KWC their views are different…”
The paragraph begins much the same as all the others, but it quickly points out the same thought that Gilding had on the subject — that the reports view it from the eyes of outsider, bent on its high moral views and personal comforts, but never sees beyond that to what else lies in such an environment.
Gilding encourages reading the rest of the article. While Kowloon Walled City isn’t the place she would ever want to live, the author of the site makes an admirable demonstration of the narrowmindedness demonstrated on the subject, both in example (that the rest of the country outside of the wall of KWC has areas just as impoverished) and in deomstrating that there thrived a whole culture that was orderly in its chaos and rich and beautiful and strong.
Though the city was demolished, its existence and the buzz of opinions surrounding it just months before it was torn down demonstrates the importance of cultural reletiveness. Oh, and a lesson best said in a few frank words — not everyone wants to be Americans. Seriously, if America could just learn that, all its best efforts could be just that, best efforts, not overbearing attitudes destined to create embitterment.
Link: Kowloon Walled City
Talk about going organic. Sensonian Arquitectos took nature as an inspiration as a literal — done before by many architects, but this design nevertheless is worthy of mention. Patterned after a shell, the Spiral Shell House is constructed from a durable combination of steel wire and a special super-thick concrete, making it able to withstand earthquakes and is incredibly low-maintenance structurally.
The odd forms of the exterior continue to wrap and connect within the interior creating spacial and architectural features. The organic nature of the home is further continued within the interior with winding stone paths set amid plant life in an organic pattern, which as much directs foot traffic among interior structures like furniture as it does surrounding it in an oasis of green lushness.
Architectually speaking we all know the benefits of living in the ground is a cooler home in the summer, warmer home in the winter, and a lower electricity all around, but usually the examples of such living we are given are more like a lessen in the eclectic than one of convincing us to all suddenly go to ground. But this modern OUTrial House sheltered beneath a grassy hill would send Gilding packing her belongings and moving in in a New York minute.
Deciding to embrace the knowledge that no matter how much or how far sustainable construction methods go, there will always remain a visual impact on the landscape, the Polish architecture firm KWK Promes built their design for a new home beneath a grassy mound of land. By essentially lifting the existing land and placing it on the roof, the OUTrial house maintains a subtle presence and pays service to the surrounding landscape.
Located in Ksiazenice, Poland, the only context for the new home was a green clearing surrounded by forest. Architects then came up with the idea to “carve out” a piece of the grass-covered site, move it up and treat it as roofing. They then arranged the typical household functions underneath. The visual effect is that of a house built into a grassy knoll when in fact the house is really a free-standing box construction with a grass roof.
But like its truly burried brethen, the grass-covered roof provides the home with natural insulation year round and the ground level construciton takes advantage of unobstructed natural light coming through the homes numerous floor-to-ceiling windows.
And while the grass roof appears to extend freely into the clearing, it is in fact only accessible from inside the house via a set of grass stairs.
What’s also interesting about this grassy roof top is that there remains the safety of a private yard without the constraints of a fence or gate. This result is the creation of a natural, unobstructed flow and an intimate relationship between the occupant and their interior and exterior living space.
Gilding would scratch someone’s eyes out to have this installation in her home. Bit too dramatic? No, you say…Gilding thought it was an appropriate reaction as well.
This paper flower installation was created by Jo Lynn Alcorn for Maya Romanoff Wallpapers at Kips Bay Decorator Show House 2009. Its a stunning wall treatment full of whimsy, tactile sensation that both begs and shies away being touched, and has such a pleasing neutral color palate that is warm and soothing and natural. The touch of gold hue in the branches sets an aires of the regal, and lets just face it, the whole thing looks indulgent.
Gilding’s cousin made comment of the beautiful ironwork featured on the staircase. Upon doing some research to see if the ironwork was designed for the installation being discussed or if it were an a;ready existing feature, Gilding found out this interesting tidbit.
The Kips Bay Decorator Show House 2009 was held in a double wide townhome at 22 East 71st Street in Manhattan. Gilding googled the address and discovered a plethura of articles written on the townhome because of its recent listing on the luxuray market.
Most recently the home of the Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, the townhome, near Madison Avenue, provided a museum-like space to display old master paintings, tapestries, and sculptures. The entryway itself gave indication of the kind of decadence you are about to surround yourself with as visitors entered through arched wrought-iron gates in the Italian Renaissance facade, and up a few steps under a vaulted ceiling of coffered plaster. Polished marble ran underfoot as one roamed the gallery, and stone walls and the broad staircase designed by C.P.H. Gilbert in the 1920′s continued the picture. So there you go, Cous’. There’s the skinny on the staircase.
The gallery, though, went into federal bankruptcy court as it waded through a tangle of lawsuits from angry collectors who said the dealer behind the gallery, Lawrence B. Salander, had defrauded its customers.
Though the propery had almost seven years more to go on its lease, it gave up the property at the end of April. Two brokers at the Sotheby’s International Realty — Serena Boardman and Meredyth Hull Smith — put the propery on the market in the hopes of gettin the highest price ever for a Manhattan mansion: $75 million.
The townhome is double the width of a typical town house, some five stories high, and has an English basement. It is topped by a green mansard roof and a series of balconies surrounded by stone balustrades. The building has about 22,000 square feet, with the right to build about 13,000 sq ft more.
The mansion was built in the early 1920s as a mansion for Julius Forstmann, a wool merchant from Germany who founded a worsted mill in Passaic, NJ. When he died, it was donated to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and used as a convent and center for the blind.
The house was owned fro a time by the sports agency IMG, then was bought in 2004 by Aby Rosen, a real estate developer, and his business partner Micheal Fuchs. A few months later, they signed the lease with Mr. Salander’s gallery that was to run through 2015. You can read about the gallery’s troubled history and the what was to become the building’s fate in this NY Times article.
Below are some of the real estate images to the townhome (sans the Kips Bay Decorator Show installations).
Gilding once, some time long ago, saw this show in which they toured the home of some model whom had remodeled an abandoned concrete factory into this chic modern home. At the time it was an unusual thing but it was the start of what would become a trend in the world of remodel. It was then that Gilding fell in love with the idea of purchasing some abandoned industrial building and turning it into a home built of dreams and oodles and oodles of cash.
Its not just the sqaure footage — though the sqaure footage of an industrial building is obviously a built in perk in roominess — and its not just the concept of sustainable living by repurposing whats already there to fit new needs with little more impact on the environment. But its the unique architecture that is afforded with such a building. True, doing the same with a modern, fairly newly built but no longer used industrial building that was designed more for purpose and profit only and less for aesthetic doesn’t afford for the architectural beauty one desires of a home. But industrial buildings of yore, like those built in the 1900′s and even as late as the 60′s have so much character and regal elegance that is rarely recreated in new construction.
It’s probably just a pipe dream — the money to purchase an abandoned industrial goliath is hardly cheap and reoutfitting one for suitable living wouldn’t be either, but wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to. Here are some inspiring abandoned substations and power plants that would be just architecturally delicious to turn into a home — and just by the sqaure footage of some of them, a mansion.
Photos by Mark Obstfeld
Built in 1930-5 for the Westminster Electric Corporation to the designs of C. Stanley Peach, with C.H. Reilly as assistant, the Duke Street Electric Substation in London sits just off Oxford Street, a main shopping street. The building actually rose to greater heights than the original designs had comtemplated, with a balustrade all around, Diocletian windows along the sides to light the galleries of the engine rooms which occupied deep basements, and a garden above that was paved and allotted trees and tubs that no longer exist. More information on the building can be found on the English Heritage site.
Image from Jakob Ehrensvärd
This is but one of some fifty underground bunker substations built in Sweden during World War II. Concealing powerful generators, the substations were bomb-proof and cooled by underground rivers.
This appealingly gothic-like abandoned hydroelectric power station belongs to BC Hydro in Vancouver, Canada; one of a couple. Built in 1903, for (at the time) a staggering $1.3 million, the power station operated until 1964.
Another power station on the Indian Arm, near Buntzen Lake, Vancouver, Canada.
Built in 1906, the Glenwood Power Station in Yonker, NY, was abandoned in 1960 and has never been used since. Like the New York Power House, this plant was built to power the electric railroad system. this one also happens to be a personal favorite of Gilding’s.
Via Dark Roasted Blend.
Mid-Century Modern architecture fans and followers will love this as for a mere $995,000 they could own architect R.M. Schindler’sC 1940 Albert Van Dekker house.
Built as one of the architect’s largest homes, it was built for an early Hollywood actor and his family. Tucked away in the woodland hills south of Ventura Boulevard, the home remains intact in virtually original condition, all except for the ravages of time and the elements upon it. The rustic country house was an exeuction in sophistication in a modern vocabulary, introducing asymmetrical copper-clad cables, exposed wood interiors, blue-green flagstone patios and fireplace inglenooks in a nod towards Wright’s Taliesin West. The innovative architect’s designs also included tightly interlocking volumes, foled planes, butt-glazed corners, sloping walls and ceilings, and polygonal windows — all features that were ahead of its time by about 70 years.
The Van Dekker home boasts seven bedrooms, four bathrooms, 2,300 Sq. feet, and sits on almost half an acre.
Unfortunately the beauty in the very first picture has turned into the image above as the home looks like today. The home is, in fact, in much need of major repairs. According to one source, Schindler was an amazing architect, but not so much a contractor. Schindler often used materials that were never meant to last the test of time, such as his Freeman house which used building paper on the roof facia, and tar paper roofing for the Packard House in Pasadena. While the other homes were bought by families with the ability to restore these messy building imperfections, the Van Dekker home fell into the hands a of frail elderly man in his 90′s bereft of the age of financial situation that would have allowed him to repair the home as the elements took over.
Experimenting with new ideas about her environment and how we live, architect Nathalie Wolberg has created a space that is fun and whimsical with the sophistication of modern lines and pop graphic colors. Tailoring the space to allow the body to define it, Wolberg’s home takes on a new approach to ‘rooms’ and ‘furniture, focusing on the concept of physical and mental comfort, and how to enable the individual to “live better” through architecture.
Lots of pictures and schematics can be found on Archinect.
Via: apartment therapy
built for the 2008
in Milan, Italy, Casa Per
Tutti, was concieved by
its designers, I-Beam,
as a transitional shelter
for refugees returning to
Kosovo. There was a
need for an alternative
shelter to the typical tent
solution that could
easily realize a solution
to the problem of
housing the displaced
that could then be transformed affordably and easily into a permanent home. The home even realizes its potential as a modular, prefabricated solution to affordable housing. The principal building material is the wooden shipping pallets which are versatile, recyclable, sustainable, easily assembled, and inexpensive.
The evolution of one 16′
by 16′ shelter into a
100 palettes nailed or
strapped together and
lifted into place. Tarps
draped over the basic
structure or plastic
enough debris, stone,
mud, earth, wood,
corrugated metal or any
other materials from the immediate surroundings can be gathered to fill the wall cavities and cover the roof. Pallets may be pre-assembled with styrofoam insulation, vapor barrier, plywood or corrugated sheathing prior to shipping. As infrastructure is restored and cement or other materials become available the filled pallets can be covered with stucco, plaster, or roofing tiles transforming the makeshift shelter into a permanent home within a year or two. Consequently, the Pallet House adapts to almost every climate on earth and the basic structure can be built in less than a week for under $3000.
No need for a temporary refugee shelter or inexpensively adaptable natural home? How about building one of these for that childrens playhouse your kids (or in Gilding’s case, nieces & nephews) keep giving you puppy-dog eyes for. Go to your nearest Walmart or Home Depot or some such other capitalistic bane to American economic society and they stack the pallets up outside to be taken for free. Some nails, plastic rain tarps, and imagination and your kid can have one kick-ass playhouse. Build it tall enough and Mommy and Daddy have a naughty playroom when the kids go to bed .^_~.
Oh, by the way, this wasn’t the only design. There are a few others; all using shipping pallets. Clicking on the arrows above the pictures allows you to scroll through more images of that particular design and most give you a full 360 of the structure.
Following its current exhibition at the SCI-arc Gallery in Los Angeles, Greg Lynn’s Blobwall Pavillion is slated to be presented at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennial to happen in mid-September. As part of the exhibition “Out There: Architecture Beyond Building”, the Blobwall Pavillion is a collaborative work between Greg Lynn who designed the form, Machineous who developed the manufacturing method for the “bricks”, and Panelite who produced and distributed the architectural material.
The Blobwall is an “innovative redefinition of the brick — architecture’s most basic building unit — into a lightweight object made out of colorful plastic and reinterpreted into modular elements.” This freestanding, indoor/outdoor wall system is built out of low-density, recyclable, impact-resistant polymer, and the “bricks” are robotically cut, mass produced, hollow tri-lobed shapes that are formed through rotational molding. These shapes are then assembled via interlocking to form the wall.
So in other words, this is one badass playground that you are sure to get in an ass-load of trouble for climbing on, but if you see this thing in person you must most definately climb the bitch and take pictures of your triumph before security sends you tumbling to your bone breaking doom.
Link: cut ‘n’ paste weblog
Think playing Jenga is fucking frustrating? How about living in a Jenga block.
Created by Sou Fujimoto Architects, the house draws upon the classic Japanese tower building (or in Gilding’s case, tower of “soon to meet its ultimate destruction”).
Using retangular cut cedar logs, the house actually only offers a 13′x13′x13′ cube space that amounts to accumulations of bits and pieces of sections of square footage here and there. If manipulating such a design structure from the outside fries your brain, try doing so from the inside as you attempt to find yourself some nook of comfortable affordability. And aside from its claustrophobic conditions, the home apparently also comes with the demand that only the hard wooden surfaces be used for all your furnishing needs like seating, sleeping, eating and storage. That is, for those individuals willing to rent the eco-initiative home, located in Kumakura, Japan.
Link: The Design Blog
Designed for disaster relief, the Recovery Shelter can house a family of four for a month with eco-friendly components, is cheap to produce, easy to produce, transports, configurate, and is reconfigurable, and adaptable to multiple environments. The shelter can be set up by a single individual in minutes, and collapsed into either of two configurations (horse-shoe or flat). And its made of 100% polypropylene, hence the recyclability.
The ridges of the Recovery shelter, created by its accordian-like design, can collect drinking water, and the structure can be covered in local materials for better insulation.
Shelter for the disaster ridden aside, the Recovery Shelter would make one bitchin’ camping tent.
From designers Matthew Malone, Amanda Goldberg, Jennifer Metcalf and Grant Meacham.
Link: Yanko Design
Lofts are the first
architecture put into
Works of procedural
as tools that help
the body organize
its thoughts and
actions to a greater
degree than is
usually present. In other words, these works force the individual parts of the body contemplate how and why they perform a specific action a particular way and then forces them to reconsider those actions to perform them in a new way. The procedural architecture of these lofts take into account all those everyday actions and movements that function within a home and through its design recalibrates our actions within them enough for us to doubt ourselves long enough to find a way to reinvent ourselves through new actions. Essentially, the architecture of the lofts make us question why we are the way we are. But no worries, for the equilibrium challanged the lofts come with a set of directions for use.
By virtue of its design, contruction, features and elements and their juxtaposition, the Lofts make vivid to the operant (that would be us) their tendencies and coordination skills that architects Arakawa and Madeline Gins have come to determine through their findings from their decade-long research in The Mechanism of Meaning, as essential and determinative of human thought and behavior.
The living space within these Lofts both prods and coaxes its residents to continue living, the architect’s optimistic hopes that the Loft will thusly have the capacity to help extend the resident’s life span and quality of life.
Link: Reversible Destiny Lofts
So, Gilding & Mr. Gilding have been doing some strategic life planning after our experiences with FSU and UF. Frankly, our faith in Florida’s education system has been damaged beyond repair, and you can only base so much of life on Faith alone. Mr. Gilding in particular has had his fill of spending time in taking on education — between elitist attitudes that question, scoff, or belittle his life as an artist in a wheelchair, bureaucratic bullshit between universities and campuses across the board that has whittled his Associates degree in the Arts to something worth little more than nothing and accepted nowhere (and that’s above the already there stigma of Arts as a degree). And frankly, Gilding herself has run out of things to say to him to make it all better. Florida’s current education crisis affects not only grade school but has created all sorts of trickle effects in higher education that was unforeseeable.
Everyone in the nation should (by now at least) see that the “No Child Left Behind” shit is just that — shit!. And that standardized testing, let alone basing a school’s funding on test scores, especially when those reward funds go to schools that already have funding and money and the grades rather than going to the inner city and poor schools that need it, is a backwards, fucked up system that only promotes the continued establishment as well as exponentially exacerbates the current status of poverty to new and greater levels. More over, standardized testing has created stupid college students that can’t study, can’t learn, and are little more than programmable robots. And the few that can think are little assholes because they know that they are ahead of the game — which is stupid because thinking should be a fucking given, not a quality rewarded by tolerating that shit-head attitude.
And universities don’t want to deal with their asses either. Which has only helped promote attitudes of elitism and reward for those with enough money to buy their way in to the right school and fuck all the rest that worked their way through hard work and determination. Correction, those hard workers can eventually make their way in to the Florida University of their choice — but more than likely they are going to have to bounce from one University to the next in the hopes of finally achieving all the core requisite classes that that ONE particular university requires — or make the decision to settle for receiving a degree from a school of third, fourth or even fifth choice. And that’s just shitty. Gilding holds out the hope that this is only a Florida education crisis reality and not nationwide, but if trends hold steady, this reality will be spreading to a hometown near you like the virus that it is.
So — obviously not in love with the education system as it is currently, and not yet ready to locate to some far away state where no family lives, the Gilded Duo have been in search of a life decision that makes them happy and financially secure — well, as secure as you can be in the times of recession and stupid bureaucratic sell-outs. The idea of a cafe has been a recurring one that the Gilded Duo can’t seem to escape. What kind remains to be a surprise…to you, not the Gilded Duo, of course. But how friekin’ cool would it be to make this your favorite local cafe to hang out at.
Just in case you’re thoroughly mystified, that is a shipping container that slash-cafe is made out of.
A few years back, several architects, Adam Kalkin being at the forefront, began a movement to solve the problem of creating low income houseing that both the day laborer and the government could afford. On the heels of that problem was the rising shipping containers that were piling ever higher in shipping yards, blocking the views and in some cases the sun, of the neighborhoods behind them, as America was importing more than it was exporting. This issue hasn’t changed, but Kalkin saw an opportunity to resolve both problems. And thus he began making homes out of shipping containers.
This illycaffe is a spin-off from his Push Button House design. And yep, that means that this cafe opens with the push of a button.
Wonder if its a trademark infringement to name ours sillycaffe? It does have a nive ring to it.
Designers Peter Stutchbury and Richard Smith have created an eco-friendly, temporary housing unit capable of many uses, one of which being temporary housing for disaster relief.
By demonstrating that a living structure that is 100% recycled in its building construction and its components, as well as capable of being 100% recyclable after use, and to do so at an extremely low cost, the Cardboard House is a direct challenge to the housing industry to reduce housing and environmental costs.
While being constructed of cardboard, the innovative bonding, cutting, and structural techniques used give stability to this temporary construction. Waterproofing the exterior with HDPE plastic makes the House an environmentally sustainable option; the recyclable plastic is also used for the construction of the flexible under-floor water tanks, as well as the kitchen and bathroom ‘pods’. A series of repetitive portal frames are both spaced and stabilized by a secondary structure similar to the interlocking spacers used in wine boxes, and, overall, creates a pleasing aesthetic to the house.
Conceived as a kit of parts comprising of frames, infill floor, and wall panels and put together with the minimal fixings of nylon wing nuts, hand-tightened polyester tape stays, and Velcro fasteners, the Cardboard House can be put together by two people over a six hour period.
Though the building is
constructed of lightweight
materials (making it both
transportable as well as easily
assembled), the roof’s fabric
assists in holding down the
House (similar to a tent fly) while
also diffusing light in the day and
turning the structure into a ‘glow-box’ at night. Water collected in the ‘bladders’ underneath the floor double as ballasts to further hold down the lightweight building.
A composting toilet system produces nutrient-rich water for gardening, or at the very least, leaving no harmful impact on the environment.
Low-voltage lighting can be powered using a 12-volt car battery or small photovoltaic cells mounted in the roof framing.
Meant to be only temporary housing, the Cardboard House can be used for any variety of reasons, from camping without necessarily roughin’-it to being used as living quarters while permanent housing is being built, but certainly the most beneficial is the use as a temporary housing option during disaster relief efforts. It may be made of cardboard, but environmentally the impact is beneficial, low-impact, and a huge improvement formaldehyde lined mobile homes given to survivors of Hurricane Katrina.