amusement park urbanism, part IV

Over the past couple of years, it has become painfully obvious that city centers have become playgrounds for bleach-white collar types. It seems more and more we find blue collars fleeing to the suburbs, while their old neighborhoods get gentrified with luxury condos, luxury boutiques, cafes, bars, and restaurants. Marketers and developers are obviously at the controls of this rapid succession of conspicuous consumption. And yet, they just won't stop. Colors of the streets becoming more and more pale (read white people) and day after day, the gimmicks just keep on coming. Are you kidding me?


Cities are all about people. People interact. Interactions happen on the streets. Streets need less cars. Blog about streets.



Having just returned from a long weekend in Portland, Oregon, I am reminded how far design has come as it firmly entrenches itself in the mainstream. That city is so pretty, so cute, so well manicured....that it sort of makes me want to vomit.

Don't get me wrong. I love that place, spent a long time there, but now question whether too much of a good thing is beginning to rid it of its once alluring mix of crack heads, blue collar workers, and the occasional Intel employee. Now everything is cool, everyone is cool, and I'm beginning to think that the city of Portland is forcing all new residents to read Richard Florida.(trigger vomit comment here). Yearning for "ugly" or, I share with you, dear readers, some refreshing brutalism.



With all the recent talk out there about geomagnetic buildings, I though I'd link these photos of cloud stuctures. Fascinating.Maybe aeroscrafts will take off as a building material?



We all surf the internet in copious amounts, looking at imagery, commenting on said imagery, gaining ideas on imagery, and infecting others with our own imagery. Everything we desire can be found on the internet in seconds. Or maybe I should say, IMAGES of everything we desire can be found, be it precedents for a design or ideas for research. The one thing we cannot find much of on the internet are windows into process oriented design approaches, which are few and far between.


solar power on the cheap?

"New solar cells developed by Massey University don't need direct sunlight to operate and use a patented range of dyes that can be impregnated in roofs, window glass and eventually even clothing to produce power" Read. Design ideas in comments section.


geneva international auto show...

... is getting more and more progressive.

one man's junk is another man's treasure

I think it is even more challenging to design within an inventory of found objects. How many times have you started a design problem with a client brief and a pile of junk?

Their new web site: Rural Studio
The Sanford and Son of Dutch Design: 2012 Architecten
Interesting article through AMO: @ Archis


a populist nod

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been lambasted left and right (figuratively) for even trying to become governor of California. In this, his second term, he seems to have founded an interesting blend of environmentalism and free market capitalism. This article is an interesting read, not only on the methods behind his madness, but also on the politics behind much of Washington's assault on the environment.
Here's one: "He's also negotiating with (reps. from Baja and British Columbia) for a hydrogen highway dotted with liquid-hydrogen fueling stations up and down the 5,300-mile Pacific coastline." I like this idea. In fact, it is a real-world example of an idea laid out in the treatise Ecotopia, in which the whole west coast of America, from California to Canada, secedes to become their own progressive state. In this, a magnetic high-speed rail line, completely carbon free, becomes the main line for trade on the former Pacific Coast Highway.


doing it yourself

As designers, we pride ourselves in our ability to visualize spaces and objects before they are built. In a sense, we are consistently living in the future of possibility, our visions and representations of visions to be actualized at a "later" time. Having said this, we've probably all heard of rapid prototyping and the optimism that comes along with it, mainly that we can now actually build our ideas in rapid succession, quickly making object, tweaking design, making object, tweaking, and so forth. In theory, what an amazing sequence of events. However, there are limitations: and they are, per ususal, monetary. How much can you get that model built for? Excuse me? In my experience, that one thing standing between a house full of models and prototypes and myself is the almighty dollar.
If you, dear reader, buy any of this, than I must tell you there is hope. Last night, I was able to attend a lecture by a young gentlemen currently researching how to create a rapid prototyping machine for under $400. Desktop style Making, with a capital M.
If that weren't enough, in today's New York Times there is a wonderful article concerning the subject with links and even more information on how to at the very least buy prototypes on the low end of the price scale. For instance, Great Eastern Technologies, "will make small multicolored copies from a starch-based powder for about $70 using a printer from the Z Corporation."
It seems like desktop manufacturing is beginning to take shape, and if economies of scale begin to assemble, I believe we are in for an evolution in innovation. As we read of those Internet 2.0 geeks setting up shop in coffee shops all across the world, we can take inspiration and create a virtual network of freelancing designer who are open to open-source sharing, and who will disseminate ideas at a much faster and more poignant clip.


urban development

ReUrbA2 is a European regional organization focused on the re-development of urban areas, specifically within those under-the-radar cities. Although current projects (because of socialized funding) are located in the larger urban areas such as London and Rotterdam, there is an energy in devising methods and practices for re-inventing mining towns and whole city districts, for example. The website is quite successful in communicating how private and governmental funding, along with creative problem solving, can encourage development while preserving a city's soul. In some cases, reinventing latent atmosphere's of experience.

Moreover, ErasmusPC: “Let’s not talk about urban regeneration. Its too problem oriented and too physical. Let’s talk about urban development instead. This is about people, about stimulus, about coalitions and about future.” Scroll down to the bottom of the page and read through the various interviews from developers, scholars, and architects.

Both of these sites provide a more socialized, heterarchical method of development practices. Instead of developers' money making all the land use decisions, ideas and debate are incubated, spurring more creative and sustainable built fabric.

When one comes to think about it, is there a similar organization in the U.S.? The Congress for New Urbanism maybe? Ugh. We're screwed. Just look at how un-intelligently they're rebuilding New Orleans. Build, build, build. Fast, fast, fast. Pastiche, pastiche, pastiche. This was, above all else, a chance for real change in the way America deals with development. Instead, old architecture was copied, and towns are being "rebuilt" furiously without research into truly sustainable ways of living in swamp land, under sea level.


we did this to ourselves

As the above image demonstrates, we may be traversing new formed archipelagos of land-cliffs amidst fields that were once deep blue lakes and waterways. The culprits: Las Vegas and other fast-growing cities and towns in Colorado, Utah, and Nevada, the more arid states in the Continental U.S.
"New scientific evidence suggests that periodic long, severe droughts have become the norm in the Colorado River basin, undermining calculations of how much water the river can be expected to provide and intensifying pressures to find new solutions or sources."


be afraid, be very afraid

If you haven't already destroyed your TV in the process of watching Jesus Camp, go do it now. It's worth it, I promise. This movie is an astonishing look at how evangelical christians are (brainwashing) preparing their children for the second coming of jesus, which they feel is imminent in said childrens' lifetimes. The main character, a radical fundamentalist, believes if they are training young kids in Afghanistan to wield weapons for god, then we should do the same, sans guns. But it's the same thing, regardless.

If that doesn't scare you in to watching it, then maybe the fact that in one stanza, a pastor from Colorado Springs looks directly into the camera and, with a straight face, states that the evangelical right is so strong, and gaining so much momentum, that with it's sheer numbers, it could influence EVERY presidential election from here to kingdom come, will.