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.
James Howard Kunstler dissects suburbia | Video on TED.com – James Howard Kunstler discusses the failures of suburban public spaces with polemics and humor. His very serious critique of the faults of contemporary architectural design are stinging in their validity but his advocacy of New Urbanism caries with it the same nostalgic problems as post-modern historicism. When will there by a theory of urbanism and architecture that will address our very real human environmental needs without falling back on pure humanism and architectural languages of the past. There are very real lessons in the past, but there are still innovations to discover in the future; I call for an architecture of the ordinary that can draw from both. A new vernacular that doesn't use the crutch of language or style but also doesn't leap into the sky with untestable ideas and concepts that more than often fail to address the needs of our daily lives.
Building on Canvas: Sarah McKenzie and the New American Landscape | Arch Daily – An interview with Sarah McKenzie, who is a painter that has taken to painting images of the modern landscape, specifically buildings. She started painting aerial perspectives of suburban subdivisions but has since moved on to buildings under construction. Her painters are an interesting twist on abstraction and still life. Their rich, creamy colors confront the viewer with banal images of everyday environments made fresh and potent again. The painters challenge the viewer to think about the very real impact such environments as a subdivision or a wood framed house under construction have on our daily lives; yet the paintings hold judgment, leaving the viewer to make up their own minds as to the implications.
It is difficult to come to a conclusion on the Ningbo Historic Mueseum as it seems to defy any kind of clear reading, but whatever the building is, it is definitely intriguing.
The Villanueva’s Public Library is an excellent example of architecture working for its community, becoming something more without the need for expressive forms that lack anything beyond their singular expressive concept.
That said, some of my own most productive research was largely incomprehensible to others.