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Designing For An Aging Generation

My grandfather will turn 90 this August. Very thankfully, he and my grandmother have the means to support themselves at that age. However, many many many others will not be able to do the same. Any report on global populations trends (like this one or this one) will mention the growing elderly population in any developed country; the age balance of such populations are tipping towards the old as never before. Who will care for those who can’t afford senior or assisted living communities?

Architecture isn’t the sole solution but it has a part to play. For my most recent entry in my New Archetypes column—which explores small projects that contain big ideas—I explored a project that realizes one way architecture can help tackle this growing issue. Designed by Susan Fitzgerald Architecture, this Halifax home and office accommodates changes in work and personal life: when the young eventually leave, the old move in for care, a home business grows or contracts, and more. The design expertly divides its living and working areas to accept multiple configurations of living and working. Click to learn how Fitzgerald did all these things, as well as incorporate urban agriculture into the building!

Link to the Architizer Article

Top Photo: King Street Live/Work/Grow project, Photo by Greg Richardson via Architizer.

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How China is Building Africa

I very distinctly remember my visit to China in Summer 2006: the vast cities wreathed in smog, the highways and ring roads snaking through them, the clusters and stand-alone generic skyscrapers. Shanghai was almost like New York City, Beijing a wholly unfamiliar, spread-out, kind of city. I recently had the chance to revisit those memories when reviewing a recent exhibition: Facing East: Chinese Urbanism in Africa, at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City.

The exhibit explores how Chinese corporations are financing, planning, and building African cities and economies. While my review touches on urban design, economics, politics, and culture, it’s important to remember how these new African cities will be viscerally experienced by their inhabitants – through car rides, through dirty air, through homelessness, through business trips, through tourism. These places aren’t just intersections of abstract or global forces – they’re very real and there’s nothing quite like being there.

Link to the Article on Core77

PS. See this recent New York Times article for more on this subject.

Top Image: Facing East: Chinese Urbanism in Africa, 2015. Curated by Michiel Hulshof and Daan Roggevan. Storefront for Art and Architecture. Photo by Qi Lin.

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When the Park Comes to You: San Francisco’s Unique ‘Parklet’ Program

From crowdfunding to super-rich donors and other more scandalous methods, the means to fund new public spaces are proving to be diverse. But why the sudden rush for public space? Put simply, its rewards of public space appeal to a broad range of constituents: better quality of life for residents, increased real estate value, amplified tourism, and even the glory of architectural iconicity. Yet not all public space need be expensive or grand.

That’s just one of the reasons I like San Francisco’s ‘parklets’: these street-side hyper-miniature parks are temporary, keeping the city’s visual landscape diverse while giving young designers fresh opportunities for acclaim. They’re also surgical, with each location identified by the city as a prime parklet opportunity. Their specificity can also highlight the potential of design to intelligently meet local needs. Lastly, while some architects never study their project’s success (or failure) in the long term, the city monitors the impact of these installations over their lifetime. It’s a fascinating mix of characteristics; read to learn how they came about!

Link to the Article on Core77

Top Image: The Sunset Parklet designed by INTERSTICE Architects. Photo by Cesar Rubio via Contemporist.

[Guest Post] The Poetry of the Little-Known Red Brick Gallery

Dichen Ding is an Architectural Designer in New York City. She was born in China, received her Master of  Architecture from Columbia University and is currently working for TEN Arqitectos.

The Red Brick Art Gallery not only holds valuable artwork within its brick shell, but also offers amazingly choreographed and masterfully-crafted brick spaces that unfold as you move through them. Located in Northeastern Chaoyang District, Beijing No.1 International Art District, the entire gallery complex is around 20,000 square meters (about 180,000 sf) and the gallery itself takes up half that area. The Red Brick Art Gallery was founded by art collector Shijie Yan and Mei Cao and opened on May 23rd, 2014; the architect behind the gallery and its garden is Yugan Dong, a professor at Peking University’s architectural research center.  Dong is an architect who specializes in the use of red bricks; in this project he continues his exploration of red brick as an essential architectural element.  His efforts form a unique architectural language – as well as peaceful contemporary garden – in this modern gallery.

Top Image: Red Brick Art Gallery, All Photos Courtesy Red Brick Art Gallery.

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Unlocking Skyscrapers’ Hidden Energy Through Art

Like a dormant volcano, every building holds a vast reservoir of untapped strength. But that energy isn’t explosive: it’s reactive, waiting to resist the thousands of tons of force that strong winds and earthquakes exert on structures.  That’s how an engineer described a recently-completed artwork that his firm, Arup, helped design with artist Janet Echelman. Titled As If It Were Already Here and located in a downtown Boston park, the 1 ton sculpture is composed of rope and twine hanging more than 300 feet in the air. The artwork hangs from several skyscrapers especially chosen for their strength: when the wind blows, and the sculpture catches it like a sail, the buildings push back with 100,000 pounds of force. Read on to learn more!

Link to the Article on Architectural Record

Top Image: Janet Echelman’s As If It Were Already Here, via Hi Fructose

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How To Create A Secular Saint – And Her Shrine

Local Essex woman Julie Cope never lived or died, but sure enough, in a peaceful Essex field you can find a building that commemorates her life in every detail. Tapestries, tiles, statues, and other objects use various symbols and imagery to communicate the story of her life: her gradual rise up Britain’s socioeconomic ladder, her marriages and children, and her untimely demise at the hands (wheel?) of a food delivery motorbike. This shrine, which doubles as a vacation home, is part of a unique series of architectural experiments being commissioned in Britain by the organization Living Architecture. Read on learn about their undertaking, the house’s design, and how it was created through a close collaboration between artist Peter Grayson and architect Charles Holland.

Link to Architectural Record Article

Top Image: A House for Essex, Photo © Jack Hobhouse

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Building Tall With… Recycled Paper?

I’m very excited to inaugurate a (hopefully) recurring column on Architizer – titled New Archetypes – that explores how architects experiment with small projects to produce very unique designs. This entry focuses on a 20 foot tall pavilion built from recycled paper pulp, the exact same material found in your Starbucks coffee tray and cardboard moving boxes. The ‘Pulp Pavilion,’ designed by L.A.-based Ball-Nogues Studio, shaded visitors to this year’s Coachella Music and Arts Festival.

Read on to learn more!

Link to the Architizer Article

Top Image: The Pulp Pavilion, Courtesy Ball-Nogues Studio via Architizer