19 May 2010

Burning Man Project

Aerial view of the "temporary city" of Black Rock (the city is arranged in a series of concentric streets in an arc formation, using 2/3 of a circle, with the Burning Man exactly in the centre)

The Burning Man Project is an annual event (festival) held in the Black Rock Desert, North Nevada, USA. It starts on the monday before & finishes on the American Labour Day holiday (end of August). The name is taken from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy on the saturday night. It is a hard event to describe (even the organisers says this), it is a very free, liberal art festival I would say, others have described it as
an experiment in community, radical self expression and radical self-reliance.... I think this sounds a little over the top hippy-ish....I think it is a festival in which you can be however you wish to be (even clothing is optional!). The only criteria is that you contribute in some way to the event, whether it be in a radical way of dressing, an art installation, you must create a world for yourself in that week that you are stranded in the blood boiling heats of the desert. In as much of the event as possible sustainable resources, materials & power is used; there is a no car policy (except for "mutant cars"), no cash transactions are allowed (rely on gift economy), reclaimed cooking oil is used to power many of the generators, participants are commited to a 'leave no trace' event, meaning they should strive to leave the place in a better condition than it was previous to their arrival. It started on a beach in San Francisco with 20 people buring a wooden man on the summer solstice in 1986, now it attracts over 40,000 people & is in a way on one of the largest beaches in the US (if you compare sand with sand...!) I
find it really fascinating, however very daunting, & would like to try to go one year, maybe it is something you have to experience one time, it is a one of a kind event.

Here are some of the art installations people have taken with them as their contributions to this pretty unique & unusual event.

The Babylon Art Installation in 2008 was a 100 ft tall steel tower, with a photo booth at the bottom, that projected images taken during the day onto the tower during the night (reusable, recyclable & multi-purpose)

Foraging alien-like creature

Conexus Cathedral, over 200 ft long & 50 ft high, in 2006

Floating astronaut for 2008 American Dream theme

Participants dressed as Pan-like creatures on stilts

Installation constructed from 2 large trucks

Rotating installation that projected fire into the night sky from 4 jets

The Temple of Honour created by sculptor David Best in 2003

18 May 2010

Ironside Farrar Environmental Consultants

I was first introduced to the idea of Landscape Architecture by my uncle. He runs a multi-discipline Environmental Consultancy practice in Edinburgh, offering services including Landscape architecture & planning, civil engineering, contamination & remediation, development & environmental planning. They have three offices, the main one in Edinburgh, smaller offices in Manchester & Bellshill. I worked there for my GCSE work experience for one week, enjoyed it so much that I went back to do three months in my gap year as an assistant Landscape Architect. I have posted earlier some of the work that I did whilst I was working there, however wanted to show some of the companies better work! Their work is mainly in Scotland, including projects like; the Edinburgh Zoo Masterplan, Potterrow Campus design, Edinburgh University Masterplan, Bootle Town Square redesign, & many more smaller public realms, campus designs, residential landscapes, feature lighting designs & signage strategies.

Potterrow Campus - "the use of natural & precast stone to reflect traditional materials in a contemporary manner"

Bader Community Park Project - competition to create a new community park

North Queensferry Streetscape Improvements - Street Design Competition 2001 Winner

Princes Street Vision - "
Visionary ideas sought to clearly illustrate how the public realm of Princes Street may be enhanced subsequent to transportation changes."

All images & quoted text taken from IronsideFarrar website - www.ironsidefarrar.com/index.htm

17 May 2010

Pollution Reducing Cement....

I have just read on a website that an Italian cement-making company have just created a new form of cement that will actually reduce the levels of pollution in big cities...... It is said to "kill" smog & pollution.
The cement has been named TX Active & is enhanced with titanium dioxide. The company claims that through a natural process called photocatalysis (occurs in sunlight), the titanium dioxide takes harmful chemicals from the air & turns them into harmless substances like water & nitrates. The cement is also self cleaning, and so any bi-products simply wash away with the rain. Italcementi (the cement company) believe that even if only 15% of buildings in a city were coated in TX Active, it would reduce pollution rates by upto 60%.

I am not convinced by these claims, however if it were to be true then it would be an incredible breakthrough in controlling pollution levels in large cities.
This is pretty amazing. Gary Chang, an architect from Hong Kong has created a fully functional home consisting of 24 interchangable rooms in a space of just 32meters squared (8m x 4m). Within such a densely populated city homes like this are definately a thing for the future. Check out the video below.

The Art of Papering Over Reality - Ben Heine

This guy doesn't use all the technology available to artists & designers today, instead he simply uses photography & pencil drawn sketches to creates really cool images. I really like them because he turns a normal scene, like a city scape, into a fantastical & imaginative image just by adding these simple sketches. He plays with different comparisons: black & white vs. colour, cartoon vs. photography, & fantasy vs. reality.

V&A Architectural Model Exhibition

Villa Stein-de Monzie, Le Corbusier (built 1926-8)
Le Corbusier was the pioneer of 'Modern Architecture' & the 'International style' of architecture. He was an architect, artist, designer, urbanist & writer born in Switzerland. The model shows his Villa Stein-de Monzie in Garches, France. The building has been described as having "isolated space", surrounded by gardens & open spaces created by terraces. The concept came from the idea of ocean liners, & 16th century Palladian homes. This was my favourite model, not necessarily because of the actual structure, but the materials used, mainly the contrast between the light material used for the building itself & the dark surrounding trees.

Gatwick Airport Terminal, Hoar Marlow & Lovett (built 1935-6)
This was the first airport terminal to give passengers direct, covered access to the aircraft. The interior was carefully considered & designed to seperate streams of passengers, this was done with three telescopic tunnels that brought passengers from arrivals into customs & the immigration halls. Another three tunnels connected the passenger lounges to the departing planes. For the time I think this was quite an ingenious design & layout, however when you think what Gatwick airport is like today it is a very different story! Just the size comparison is astonishing, but then today you can fly to any destination in the world which is very different how it was nearly 100 years ago.

Bluewater, Eric Kuhne & Associates (built 1996-9)
Bluewater, in Greenhithe, Kent, is the UK's largest shopping mall. Nine million people live within one hour's drive of the centre. The design is so that it houses leisure facilities, shops & restaurants all under one roof, similar to most shopping centres. The triangular shape holds 320 outlets, in three seperate districts, all aimed at different markets. The model was quite impressive, it clearly illustrated the expanse of the centre & the variations of buildings & usages within the site.

BedZED Sustainable Housing, Bill Dunster Architects (built 1999-2001)
Bedddinton Zero Energy Development (BedZED) in Wallington, Surrey, is the UK's largest mixed use sustainable development, incorporating housing, workspace & community facilities. Normal people have moved into the development to live more sustainable & environmentally friendly lives. Every aspect of life is monitored & all sustainable alternatives are used throughout their lives, from water & electricity usage, food products, waste, transport, housing & many more aspects. I saw this model at the V&A as was so intrigued I decided to make a visit as it is just 10 miles away from Kingston. The development is pretty amazing, it is function, efficient & quirkily attractive. Unfortunately I was unable to take photos as this is where people actually live, however I was given permission to take photos from the BedZED website (http://www.bioregional.com/what-we-do/our-work/bedzed/)

The Glory Years Of British Rock - Harry Goodwin Photography

On New Year's Day 1964 Top Of The Pops was first aired on the BBC & became the longest running TV show in British history. Harry Goodwin was the in house photographer from 1964 to 1973, photographing such artists as The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendricks, Bob Dylan, The Who & many many more.

I am a huge fan of this era of music, anything from the 50's to the 70's. So when the V&A released an exhibition of Harry Goodwin's photography whilst at Top Of The Pops, I had to go take a look!

John Lennon

Jimi Hendricks

Elton John, Marc Bolan & Rod Stewart

David Bowie

The Who

The Who

The Hollies

Elephant Parade London 2010

When visiting the V&A I came across a brightly coloured painted elephant. After looking into it I found out that this elephant was one of a series spread out across London for the period of May to July. They are are in aid of a conservation campaign that want to make people aware of the crisis faced by the already endangered Asian elephant. There are over 250 elephants across London, all decorated by different celebrities or artists. There aim is to raise £2 million for the Asian Elephant. All of the elephants are up for auction, and miniature versions are available to buy.

The first image of the blue elephant I spotted in St. Christopher's Place, just off Oxford Street, and the other two were outside the V&A

The elephants are really beautiful & add so much colour to quite a dull city landscape. I hope that they do raise awareness as the Asian elephants are amazing animals. I am going to buy one of the miniature versions, possibly like the elephant in the image above with the Hindu Om symbol.

Princess Diana Memorial, Hyde Park

Although having lived in London now for 2 years I had yet to visit Hyde Park.....until now! I have heard so much about the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain but had never seen it myself, so I went & saw it...I think that it is an interesting installation, it is a very beautiful structure. The flowing water & fluid shape makes it a very relaxing place to sit alone, or with friends, or to interact with, as you often see children doing. Considering the time it has been in situ I think it still looked really good, very new & clean. There was no sign of vandalism or litter, which always improves an opinion of a site (I believe). All in all I think it is definately worth a visit if you have not been, & I can see myself going back there to sit & relax one day if I happen to be in the area.

Grand Designs Live 2010

I went to the Grand Designs Live in London's Exel. The event is mainly for people to find inspiration for their homes & gardens, so there is a lot of showroom-type displays of kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. The event promotes sustainable, eco-friendly, new cutting-edge design products. There are many sections including; interiors, building, gardens, technology & bathrooms. I was slightly disappointed by the exhibition, before going I was under the impression there would be much larger displays, perhaps of new eco-friendly homes or gardens, however there was very little like this. Here are some images of the aspects of the exhibition that I was interested in (some of my own images, & some taken from www.granddesignslive.com/)

Recycled garden shed - made from recycled wellie boots, mobile phones, & unused paints

Here are a couple of short clips of some 3d modeling of gardens & homes:
Grand Show Gardens sponsored by Cuprinol
Bee Garden

15 May 2010

Materiality - Under Your Feet

Whilst walking around the streets I noticed the extensive variety of materials are used beneath our feet. If you are not paying much attention then you wouldn't notice the changing materials, but if you do then you will realise how many different materials can be & are used. From simple concrete to stone, grass, wooden decking, glass, metal, rubber. Almost any material can be used to pave an area.