It is a fascinating idea and sees well thought through. The very idea of a architecture grown from the earth is fascinating and Larsson seems to have thought it through.
Naha City Gallery & Apartment house / 1100 Architect | Arch Daily – Though very simple, the Naha City Gallery & Apartments by 1100 Architect is an excellent example of an architecture of the ordinary that doesn't compromise becoming the banal. Made of common materials, concrete, aluminum and glass, the building still spatially engages its surroundings. The gallery on the main floor juts out from the rest of the building, pulling in the exterior and the sunken parking beneath gives the building a firm stance on relationship to the earth, something often not thought out in contemporary buildings.
Though perhaps a building designed to closely to my own biases, I can't help but feel that carefully designs like the Naha City Gallery could do more for the urban fabric of our cities than the singular designs of many of the big name architects that gain so much press these days.
Planned Spontaneity – Bojana Vuksanovic argues for new approaches to design and planning that allow for more spontaneity and change rather than the rigid, preconceived approaches that are favored in current architectural practice. While her arguments are strong, I take issue with her unqualified use of the terms organic and complexity.
The organic is not truly opposed to the orderly. Her use of the organic is in line with its commonly conceived usage, but that usage favors too heavily the conception that the organic is somehow special in architecture. Architecture by its very nature is inorganic and though it can be a useful metaphor to compare certain aspects to the organic qualities, the organic metaphor can also be abused when not qualified in its usage. Like many in the architectural community, the term organic is as a judgment rather than a quality or characteristic. It is something that is favored and good for architecture without qualification.
Complexity is a more recent term filled with baggage in architectural discussion, however as in this essay, there is little qualification as to what makes up something that is complex and what does complexity actually do for the design. To state the obvious, complexity isn't a simple subject that many architect's seem to think it is. I am similarly troubled by her use of complexity without a discussion of the very real pitfalls of the “random”. Yes, current architecture can use more spontaneity or noise in the decision making process, but to argue that more complexity improves that process is not necessarily true. As Murry Gell-Mann argues in his book the Quark and Jaguar, effective complexity, that complexity that contributes to the behavior of a system, actually is highest and richest at some indeterminate mixture of order and randomness. Too often today, randomness, which is complex, is thought to be effective. Her example of fluids being more complex than solids falls into exactly this pitfall. Yes, there is more room for the random in a fluid, but its ability to interface with other systems and behaviors are not that much more complex than a solid when you consider all the different ways solids can form.
Despite these few discrepancies, the essay is very good and shows a careful and thoughtful approach to the problem of spontaneity in design. Vuksanovic’s critique of the conventional design practices that sacrifice richness of experience for the safety of certainty is a powerful one. I highly recommend reading the article.
WORLDS APART « LEBBEUS WOODS – Lebbeus Woods argues for the need of the next generation of architect's to take up the cause against the strict orders of design of past generations. He feels that fragmentation, chaos, randomness and complex systems of order can lead architect's to new ways of designing and opening up a new way of living for the inhabitants. Though I agree with him in principal, I can't help but question the results of the projects that currently use those concepts in their designs. As is pointed out in the comments to the essay, too often the designs are only frozen representations of chaos or complexity that claim to embody ideas of freedom and new ways of living when in fact by their very complexity, they require strict controls to finance, construct, and manage, which in the end leaves impotent the very concepts they are attempting to embody. Such concepts can not be a purely formal expression but must be lived through the very act of construction.
Mathematica Founder Developing Search Engine – PC Magazine – Steven Wolfram is developing a search engine that is attempting to make knowledge computable. That is to say, Wolfram is attempting to make a search engine that can understand the relationships between different pieces of knowledge and then can respond to queries against that knowledge. At the moment there is only a place holder for the site at http://www.wolframalpha.com/ but the initial site is set to launch in May 2009.
Ai Weiwei: Surgeon of Space, by Geoff Manaugh – Ai Weiwei's show of four collections of furniture at Phillips de Pury & Company in London is accompanied by this essay by Geoff Manaugh. Manaugh's discussion of Ai Weiwei's work is interesting in its ability to imagine new worlds projected out from Ai Weiwei's distortions on furniture. Like Manaugh's essay on his own blog, BLDGBLOG, Manaugh's writing takes a fresh, nuanced look at his subject. Ai Weiwei's work in turn is a fresh and nuanced look at traditional Chinese furniture. In several pieces he takes a traditional piece and disassembles it to using its internal logic constructs a piece of furniture distorted from its original intentions. They are fascinating pieces in their ability to focus space around the furniture that everyday furniture can't seem to do.
RATP Bus Center in Thiais / ECDM | Arch Daily – The RATP Bus Center in Thiais, Frnace by ECDM Architects is a deceptively simple building. Covered in precast concrete panels with the "non slip" domes common to pedestrian paving, the building feels like it is drawn from the surrounding pavement of the bus control center. Its careful choice of materiality is both contextual and abstract, giving the building a very clear sense of self while remaining largely mute on its architectural intentions. From the concrete facade, gaps are cut out of the mass of the building; gaps which are filled with color tinted glass. These slick and shiny cuts relieve the buildings domineering rectangular from and soften the hard pavement like facade without becoming overly expressive and taking away from the clarity of the building's form. The RATP Bus Center is a clear example of architecture that draws from its context but isn't subservient to it.
MANUEL DELANDA: Opportunities and Risks « LEBBEUS WOODS – Manuel De Landa takes on perception from a materialist point of view. De Landa views perception as the ability of an animal to assess and take advantage of opportunities and risks in its environment. He defines this ability as the capacity of an animal to affect and be affected by its environment. Though he never explicitly addresses it, in many ways this theory of capacity is an extension of Merleau-Ponty's ideas on perception but without the transcendental baggage. Like Merleau-Ponty, De Landa's theory posits that our embeddedness in the world is our perception, but De Landa takes it a step farther by extending the idea beyond its purely human roots and into the specifics of how all animals can affect their environment. The most interesting consequence of this idea is that it extends to acts of construction as a construction becomes an extension of the animal's body.