Thursday, November 27, 2008

New Keith Loutit Video

I love this guy's work. Enjoy his new entertaining video.

Metal Heart from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Santa Coloma de Gramenet Cemetery

European cities have been contending with a growing problem of space to bury their loved ones. Many new ideas are challenging ways to densify burials but also to use the burial grounds as multi-functional spaces -- spaces not just for the dead, but also the living. Traditionally, cemeteries were designed as "gardens of paradise", beautiful public places in their own right, but today that relationship is tenuous in many cases, and many cemeteries have turned to neglect. The Santa Coloma de Gramenet cemetery outside of Barcelona has introduced a contentious green solution towards a multi-functional use of a cemetery as a solar energy collection field.

This is a very unpoetic design of a traditionally thoughtful public space. It's becoming emblematic of our time where we are rushing to install solar panels onto every possible place at the expense of proper integration. In principle, I appreciate the partially conscious attitude of finding new areas of untapped energy, but at the same time see how our times are so dominated by practicality and insensitivity. In the future, when clean energy has achieved a certain milestone, there will probably be a cleanup wave to make solar panels better integrated. For now, it's a quick and dirty solution to harvesting clean energy.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rolling Huts

This just in, our project has apparently been done before. This is Olsen Sundberg Kundig's "Rolling Huts". Okay...not bad...but I don't see any secret society-carts, or seal-cutting-carts. Still, they look pretty cool and probably don't function very well, like ours. Nice.

Thanks Nico for the link.

CCA Charrette Website

The CCA has just recently updated their website by posting all of the submitted work by students, including a brief write-up of the finalist teams. Here's what they had to say about ours:

"The jury greatly appreciated the humorous, narrative approach that nonetheless upheld the proposal's practical and critical objective by revealing the fundamental needs of the village residents. The small buildings proposed act as characters who recount the diversity of the activities and needs of the people of Nunavik. They weave a dialogue between the sedentary nature of the existing houses and the more mobile and progressive needs associated with the actual life style. The proposal's “fun” dimension, the appeal to the imagination and the potential for self-construction in this both didactic and anti-establishment approach are very stimulating and contribute to making the particular nature of daily life in the North better known."

To see the updated page, go here and click on 'projects'.

The Disappearing Male

The chemical synthetic world we have surrounded ourselves with is starting to show more profoundly dangerous effects on the human race. According to a recent CBC documentary, synthetic materials are causing genetic alterations in the natural growth and well-being of males, signalling extreme concerns in human evolution. "Found in everything from shampoo, sunglasses, meat and dairy products, carpet, cosmetics and baby bottles, they are called "hormone mimicking" or "endocrine disrupting" chemicals and they may be starting to damage the most basic building blocks of human development." Watch this excellent documentary the CBC has posted on their website and consider making "drastic change".

Watch the full 45min version here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Peripetics by ZEITGUISED

Peripetics by ZEITGUISED from NotForPaper on Vimeo.

Thanks to Max for sharing this video.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Keith Loutit

I found these videos through Boing Boing a few weeks back, and can't help but share them. Keith Loutit's Time-Lapse videos:

Beached from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Bathtub III from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

After watching these scale-model-esque videos, I tried experimenting with a couple of my own images in photoshop. Here's a doctored up version of one of my pictures from Genova's roofline.

And Lisboa:

They could use a bit of polishing, but it's a fun start.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

CCA Design Charrette

[Google Earth Image of Inukjuak, from a link on CCA website]

[Image from Index of CCA/InukjuakImages]

Nunavik, the vast Inuit territory of Northern Quebec, is gripped by an ongoing and systemic housing crisis. A history of inadequate and insufficient housing coupled with an exploding demographic has created an urgent public health situation manifested by severe overcrowding, deficient sanitation and ventilation, the spread of infectious diseases, psycho-social stresses, and violence. This crisis exists across Inuit communities of the North, but it is worse and worsening in Nunavik.

The housing crisis is a political and a historical issue, but it is also very much an issue of culture and of architecture. The extremely accelerated and forced transition of the nomadic Inuit into sedentary communities between 1930 and 1950 was an enormous cultural upheaval with widespread repercussions for the Inuit and their way of life. A sophisticated array of Inuit artefacts and nomadic architectures had evolved over thousands of years and is proof of a thriving material culture which was completely adapted to its northern environment. In contrast, the contemporary architecture the Inuit now inhabit is to a large extent derived from the architecture, the climate and the culture of the South. Is it any wonder then that the Inuit do not feel “at home” in their new homes?

This year’s Charrette challenges students to propose an architecture adapted to the northern environment; an architecture of the North : an architecture properly oriented for the wind which blow strong and cold from the northwest all winter whether we live in Montreal or Inukjuak ; an architecture which corresponds to the extreme variations in sunlight experienced from season to season at high latitudes ; an architecture which reflects the traditional but also the modern ways of life of today’s Inuit societies ; an architecture which addresses the present housing crisis in Nunavik."

[Image from Index of CCA/InukjuakImages]

[Image from Index of CCA/InukjuakImages]

[Image from Index of CCA/InukjuakImages]

In our group of five grad students, we dedicated the first of three long nights to understanding the major issues concerning the town of Inukjuak (pronounced Inoo-joo-ack). We bounced many different ideas off of each other but were very much hindered by our own limited understanding of the culture and how forcible of an intervention can be appropriated to such a fragile culture. One of the root problems in itself is that a violent intervention has already taken place by a government housing band-aid plan that has de-centered the Inuit culture altogether. To put things into perspective, the Inuit here are living in a suburban community model, cutting seals on their kitchen floors, because kitchen counters make no sense for this task. They eat on the floor and so the 'southern' kitchen and dining layout is completely inefficient for their intents and purposes. There is no correspondence between culture and home.

[Image from Index of CCA/InukjuakImages]

We struggled as a team to reach a balance between the extremes of a violent and timid solution. Where one of the project requirements was to design a temporary housing solution for eighty young men, we proposed to design eighty tools for these eighty men. The idea was that these eighty people would all have customized tools where they would have to work together as a community to build the houses (which we didn't design). As an idea, it was nice to chew on for a while, but we had a hard time representing and actually understanding the idea and practicalities as a team. Our group collapsed the day before we had to submit our project to Montreal. One member quit.

We took the opportunity to start from scratch. Our new idea was to design a pre-fabricated cart, much like a boat trailer, but fitted with an inhabitation on it (think of it as a pop-up camping trailer). This time, we approached the project from a completely different angle. We decided to emphasize our design on responding to the social crisis that is a by-product of the housing crunch. So, we designed 35 unique carts that cater to specific events that are important to their culture, to their health, their education etc, and each cart having a backup function as a sleeping cart. We designed seal-cutting carts, star-gazing carts, kitchen-carts, science-carts, music-carts, dance-carts etc. The carts are all based on the nomadic lifestyle of the Inuit. Each cart can be hitched onto a vehicle, or pulled by several people, ideally to spaces between the hugely separated houses, or even to different towns. The carts can then be linked with a link-cart to make a whole cluster of events. So imagine a tool-making-cart linked to a story-telling cart linked to a kitchen-cart. The combination of these events create dynamic and flexible situations, all responding to the afflictions: privacy, stress, amnesia, and boredom.

As soon as the idea was formed, we started production and called in reinforcements. Because many of our original team members had other personal commitments, our team roster went as low as just one person manning the project at a time. Nevertheless, our great friends came to the rescue and helped draw 35 carts through the night. We managed to print the panel in just the right amount of time and rush to the bus station to drop off the panel in Montreal. The project was only 20 hours old by the time it was printed and en route to Montreal. The result:

[Our dream-team panel. Isn't she a beauty? Thanks Ed, Nico, Jess, Morgan, Max, Marc, Matt]

On the Monday evening, while attending the reception in one of the UQAM buildings, it was announced that our team won Honourable Mention! The judging was split into two categories, ACTION and IDEA (or agitation in French), with a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Honourable Mention in the action category, and two awards, 1st prize and honourable mention in the idea category. We won honourable mention under the IDEA category! Apparently the categories were formed spontaneously, based on the split in design strategies submitted by teams. The team that beat us was from McGill and submitted an all-text panel. It included test-site application forms for people to develop houses in the town, or so I believe. Another Carleton team placed second under the Action category. Congratulations and huge thanks to our whole team! Way to go Carleton!


Tugaliak (Ice Blocks)
Watch Qulliq
Watch Issaituq
CCA website