The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

by Yule Heibel on January 11, 2009

  • A bit of a fluff piece (this is the “printable” page – FastCompany has so much annoying flash & crud on its front pages), but there’s an interesting thought about *im*permanent architecture here.
    One of Ma’s core ideas — the impermanence of architecture — has particular appeal for anyone who would be happy to see Los Angeles’ relentless sprawl bulldozed. Ma, 43, views today’s Western architecture as a descendant of the Greco-Roman tradition, which is all about building in stone and erecting things that are intended to last forever. (Which makes it all the more amusing that he’s an occasional collaborator of Koolhaas, creating mind-bending buildings, such as Beijing’s CCTV headquarters, that look as if they might fall down.) Clearly a son of modern China, he questions the West’s preservationist reflex. “Everything has a life cycle, as should buildings,” he says. “Preservation is an action in sacrifice of future possibilities. The future needs its own space.”

    tags: fast_company, architecture, los_angeles, asia

  • The title is quite misleading since only the first half of Lehrer’s article chronicles the city’s stressful effects on the brain, while the second half describes urbanism’s benefits, and that it’s a question of designing cities so that nature continues to intervene and refresh/ calm / regenerate the brain.

    Given the myriad mental problems that are exacerbated by city life, from an inability to pay attention to a lack of self-control, the question remains: Why do cities continue to grow? And why, even in the electronic age, do they endure as wellsprings of intellectual life?

    Recent research by scientists at the Santa Fe Institute used a set of complex mathematical algorithms to demonstrate that the very same urban features that trigger lapses in attention and memory — the crowded streets, the crushing density of people — also correlate with measures of innovation, as strangers interact with one another in unpredictable ways. It is the “concentration of social interactions” that is largely responsible for urban creativity, according to the scientists. The density of 18th-century London may have triggered outbreaks of disease, but it also led to intellectual breakthroughs, just as the density of Cambridge — one of the densest cities in America — contributes to its success as a creative center. One corollary of this research is that less dense urban areas, like Phoenix, may, over time, generate less innovation.

    The key, then, is to find ways to mitigate the psychological damage of the metropolis while still preserving its unique benefits. Kuo, for instance, describes herself as “not a nature person,” but has learned to seek out more natural settings: The woods have become a kind of medicine. As a result, she’s better able to cope with the stresses of city life, while still enjoying its many pleasures and benefits. Because there always comes a time, as Lou Reed once sang, when a person wants to say: “I’m sick of the trees/take me to the city.”

    tags: boston_globe, neuroscience, psychology, nature, brain, jonah_lehrer, urbanization, urban_design

  • Blog post by Chris Keam about a design project called “Homes for Less,” done by students at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and at the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Advanced Wood. The students had to create homes (compact) that could be built for under $1500. The results were on view on Granville Island (till 11/14/08).

    One thing that strikes me with these microhomes – and the ones built by the Madhousers group – is that they would be claustrophobic (literally) for some of the hardcore homeless. In that regard, the “Stop-Gap housing” proposal by Vancouver architect Henriquez seems better, insofar as his proposed modular homes could be customized to leave one side completely open to nature/ outside. This is preferred by some people, especially those who need a transition period to get back into the idea of living within 4 walls.

    tags: homelessness, affordable_housing, microhomes, ecuad, vancouver

  • This page has a great series of videos explaining some of the projects showcased in the exhibition, “Home Delivery.”

    tags: moma, prefab, housing, manufactured_housing, modular, exhibitions

  • Portal page for a number of outstanding in-progress prefab/ modular housing projects.

    tags: architecture, prefab, modular, housing, manufactured_housing

  • Reading this article, I was again reminded of Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan’s book, Dazzle Gradually, and the Gaia hypothesis. Fascinating to think that the planet is regulating itself – and if it’s a sentient organism as proposed, why wouldn’t it?
    A team of UK scientists have discovered a natural process that could delay, or even end, the threat of global warming.

    The researchers, aboard the Royal Navy’s HMS Endurance, have found that melting icebergs off the coast of Antarctica are releasing millions of tiny particles of iron into the southern Ocean, helping to create huge ‘blooms’ of algae that absorb carbon emissions. The algae then sinks to the icy depths, effectively removing CO2 from the atmosphere for hundreds of years.

    According to lead researcher, Prof. Rob Raiswell of Leeds University, “The Earth itself seems to want to save us.”

    tags: cleantechnica, polar_ice, global_warming, gaia, climate_change

  • Audio slideshow of Archigram:
    “In the early 1960s, the avant-garde architectural group – Archigram – set out to find hypothetical ways of creating alternative buildings and cities for people to live and work in.

    “Their ultra-modern visions drew inspiration from modular technology and early space capsules – as well as the natural environment.”

    tags: bbc, archigram, zaha_hadid, peter_cook, slideshow, britain, 1960s

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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