Aug 31, 2008

Why More is More...

Our man in Tokyo--painter, sculptor, and art-world iconoclast Takashi Murakami--endorses maximalism.

Esquire: For the purposes of this portfolio, we're defining maximalism broadly. As an aesthetic, it tends to deal with large-scale creations--elaborate in design, ornate in detail, bright colors, and bold patterns. As a mind-set, it's even broader--it applies to individuals whose imaginations run away with them. How's our thinking?
Takashi Murakami: There is a sci-fi television show that I recently discovered called Battlestar Galactica, and there's also a new Japanese animated show called Macross Frontier. The common thread between these two shows is that both of them are stories in which humanity has had no choice but to abandon Earth and fight for survival in outer space, battle with both non-Earth beings and robots, and question the meaning of life. I guess you could call them somewhat stereotypical. But the concept that is important to me is the one of outer space. I have never traveled to outer space, and have thus never felt the fearsome limitlessness of that pitch-black world--but I think that perhaps this is the true maximalism that we are discussing here.
ESQ:Who are some of the great maximalists of all time?
TM: George Lucas and Walt Disney. From them I learned the importance of completely submersing myself in a surrealist world.
ESQ:Have you always been drawn to that kind of world?
TM: My aesthetic sense was formed at a young age by what surrounded me: the narrow residential spaces of Japan and the mental escapes from those spaces that took the forms of manga and anime.
ESQ:So much of Japan's postwar architecture was driven by minimalist impulses. With due respect to Richard Meier and co., what are some of the problems with minimalism?
TM: The concept of minimalism is to relax. Like a Zen monk in training, it is something that brings equilibrium to the heart. I don't necessarily think it has any problems, but if I were to force myself to name one, I would say that since the minimalist feeling already includes its own universe, I think it might kill the drive that we would otherwise have to commit the physically impossible and attempt to travel into outer space.
ESQ: In sci-fi films, futuristic design is often ultrastreamlined and bright white--giant iPods and such. Does that vision of the future bother you?
TM: Really? In the world of P-Funk, Parliament comes from outer space in a UFO. I think that the aesthetic you are describing is an observation of only a narrow part of the field that doesn't take into account all the directions. I'm sure that funky space clothes will become mainstream again in the future.

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image edited by DeArasis

posted by afterrabbit

Aug 23, 2008

Why Less is More..

The master architect behind L.A.'s Getty Center and Barcelona's Museum of Contemporary Art, Richard Meier, makes a case for minimalism.

When I was a boy, there was an abandoned stone quarry near my parents' house in New Jersey. I used to ride my bike over there all the time. I loved everything about being there: walking through it, climbing around it, exploring this chasm of gray stone walls and floors. The unity of the material that bound the space amazed me, and yet it never seemed the same any two times that I visited. The stone always looked different depending on the time of day or even the time of year. Light and color played out against the texture of the pale stone--jagged and porous here, smooth and opaque there--casting shadow and radiance and always evolving. The ordinary experience of playing was energized by the silence and oneness of the quarry, and it seemed to me that this was the way a place should be.

Many years after I left my boyhood home, when I was working on the Getty Center, I found myself in a stone quarry in Bagni di Tivoli, Italy, having an argument with John Walsh, the museum director, about furniture. From the blocks of travertine cut for the Getty's exterior were these incredible fifteen-foot-long, six-foot-wide remnants, which I thought would make excellent benches for the museum's entrance. Walsh vigorously disagreed. Reflecting on the argument, I remember he described my approach as a "hostility toward comfort," a remark that is significant to me now only because it is a perfect illustration of the greatest misconception about minimalism. Those who judge minimalism by its appearance alone will call it spartan, austere, even soulless. But art and design are not just about appearances. Ornamentation is not art. Great art is about heightening our experiences. To me, the minimalist aesthetic is the most humanist of all, one that elicits the full power of all our senses. What Le Corbusier called "the spirit of order, a unity of intention" is what allows us to see beauty and to take part in the journeys of our own hearts and minds.

When I look out a window, any window in the world, from Brooklyn to Rome to Fatehpur Sikri, India, I see a concert of light and color working together in ways that cannot be contrived. In my work as an architect I cannot imagine a situation in which I would try to compete with or imitate the environment that surrounds my buildings. My job is to acknowledge nature, to create relationships between the interiors and exteriors, and to bring order in a way that substantiates the spaces we live in and move through. I take the work seriously, but I recognize other styles of art and design. Sometimes I even admire them. I saw some big, soft, comfortable porch chairs on Long Island, New York, some years ago and liked them so much I thought I'd design a contemporary version. I tried it, and the prototypes are sitting in storage, where they will remain. Minimalism is not the only style, but it's my style.

I have been thinking about similar things in my own study as well as in studio project, good lord I stumbled on this passage just now.
Lately I'm learning about space of 'less', following a conception where I see such spaces as territories with low intensity of disturbances , and that results in a stronger sense of self-existance in the people, that they can be better aware of their own senses, hearts & minds. I think this may lead to an architecture which is less on self definition by its form, etc. but more flexibly/differingly defined by individual occupants that inhabit. It possibly shapes a more human built environment.
What say you?

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image edited by DeArasis

posted by afterrabbit

Aug 22, 2008

Olympic Village receives LEED Gold

Amidst the exciting of athletic accomplishments at this year’s summer Olympics, a significant achievement for sustainable design was recognized as well. Last week, on Wednesday, August 13, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson presented Chinese officials with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold award for the 2008 Olympic village. The world-class development boasts a variety of sustainable features including solar panels, green roofs, and an extensive rainwater recycling system.
According to Michael Kwok, Olympic project director for Arup, a British-based architecture and engineering firm, “there was a general objective that this was the ‘
Green Olympics.’” While the Olympic Village is a segment of the celebrated athletic event’s environmentally-friendly planning, a major goal for the Olympic Village was that its practices and techniques would also serve as a model for future development in China.
Currently housing 16,000 Olympic athletes, the 160-acre site contains 42 residential buildings ranging between six- and nine- stories, seven community centers, three commercial and retail buildings, a health center, library, gyms, swimming pools, tennis courts, and a kindergarten. Using high levels of insulation, energy efficient windows, and a system that collects and re-uses rainwater for heating and cooling, these buildings are 50 percent more energy efficient than most other buildings in Beijing. The apartments are also partially powered by solar energy and use
greywater to flush toliets. (to find out more..)

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posted by afterrabbit

Aug 16, 2008

IFAW Headquarters

designLAB architects has revealed their design for the new World Headquarters for the International Fund for Animal Welfare(IFAW). IFAW's mission is to "provide a better world for animals and people" and the design incorporates this concept with a sustainable but fitting and attractive design for the Cape Cod project.
The 54,000 sq ft design is striving for a LEED Gold certification by minimising the negative impact of the building on its surroundings. Creating a new home for a unique organization such as IFAW required thinking about a different kind of workplace. Because of IFAW’s commitment to the environment, incorporating water conservation, habitat restoration and energy efficiency into the workplace was as important as efficiency, value and other typical office design concerns.
Sustainable features include the reconstruction & clean up of a contaminated site; the restoration of habitat with native shrubs, trees, and grasses; rainwater treatment through the use of bio-swales and rain gardens that absorb rainwater runoff, and the on-site treatment of all wastewater produced in the building through a state-of-the-art septic system.
(to find out more..)

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posted by afterrabbit

Aug 12, 2008

UN Studio's Omotesando, Tokyo

The design for the Omotesando commercial complex comprises of a retail programme incorporating flagship stores, shops and restaurants, located at the intersection of Omotesando and Meiji Dori in Tokyo. The building façade modulates both the light and views from the outside to the inside and from the interior to the surrounding streets. A three-dimensional effect is created by means of interweaving façade elements within one continuous mesh-like structure. The façade panels vary in size and depth, with the tessellation and array of the corresponding elements creating the appearance of an underlying matter beneath the skin.

posted by s-uper-chii

Aug 11, 2008


Theo Jansen has been creating wind-walking examples of artificial life since 1990. What was at first a rudimentary breed has slowly evolved into a generation of machines that are able to react to their environment: “over time, these skeletons have become increasingly better at surviving the elements such as storms and water and eventually I want to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives.”
Constructed as intricate assemblages of piping, wood, and wing-like sails, Jansen’s creatures are constantly evolving and have become excellently adapted to their sandy beach environment. The creatures sport legs, which “prove to be more efficient on sand than wheels . . . they don’t need to touch every inch of the ground along the way, as a wheel has to”.
(to find out more..) & (Strandbeest)

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posted by afterrabbit

Aug 7, 2008

Beijing Olympic Countdown 7: Terminal 3

After 4 years the Beijing Airport -currently the biggest one in the world- is finished, just in time for the 2008 Olympics. The airport, designed by Foster + Partners, turned out to be a very efficient building in terms of in terms of operational efficiency, passenger comfort, sustainability and access to natural light. As an interpretation of traditional chinese culture the roof of the airport has a dragon-like form.

According to Norman Foster [...] this is a building borne of its context. It communicates a uniquely Chinese sense of place and will be a true gateway to the nation. This is expressed in its dragon-like form and the drama of the soaring roof that is a blaze of ‘traditional’ Chinese colours – imperial reds merge into golden yellows. As you proceed along the central axis, view of the red columns stretching ahead into the far distance evokes images of a Chinese temple.

(to find out more..)

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posted by midori mizu

Aug 6, 2008

Beijing Olympic Countdown 6: CCTV

Will Hunter discovers how OMA and Arup used metal structures in the astonishing design for the CCTV HQ in Beijing.
(To find out more..)

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posted by midori mizu

Aug 5, 2008

Beijing Olympic Countdown 5: The National Grand Theatre

PAUL ANDREU ponders what has become of his dream of giving Beijing a National Theater that would be the envy of the world. "The Big Hole - yes, that would be a very apt name," the French architect says as he scans the partly excavated site alongside Tiananmen Square in the Chinese capital.Andreu's vision - a $300-million structure that is not so much a building as it is a futuristic bubble set in an artificial lake - has been repeatedly stalled by objections of Beijingers who derisively refer to it as the "alien egg." Others have not been so kind calling it a "Giant Turd."
(to find out more..)

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posted by midori mizu

Aug 4, 2008

Beijing Olympic Countdown 4: Linked Hybrid

Mass housing in china has historically been standardized and repetitive. Our hope is to break the pattern; this new vertical urban sector aspires to individuation in urban living. Hundreds of different apartment layouts in a huge variety of types will be available among the 622 living spaces constructed here. And it should be emphasized, that even if this would lead to a commercial advantage, the reason for this individuation is philosophical as well.
(to find out more..)

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posted by midori mizu

Aug 3, 2008

Beijing Olympic Countdown 3: The WaterCube

The "Water Cube" was built in accordance with a water-saving design concept to be a gigantic green architectural wonder.

The venue's membrane structure, covered by ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) air cushions, is not only the first of its kind in China and the world's largest and most complex ETFE project, but it is also an economical and water-saving creation.

The blue-colored "hubble-bubble" material is much lighter than conventional glazing structures with the same lighting effect. So the cost of its supporting steel structure was reduced considerably, said Zheng Fang, the top designer of the Chinese-side design company.

ETFE material made by a German company would have cost 400-500 Euros per square meter, but the same material manufactured through a joint venture was only 2,000 yuan per square meter. The conventional glass covering will cost about 500 to 600 Euro.

In addition, the "Water Cube" was designed with water-saving and environmental protection efforts. According to statistics, the outer surface and roof facade can "collect" 10,000 tons of rain water, 70,000 tons of clean water and 60,000 tons of swimming pool water annually. And the venue can also save 140,000 tons of recycled water a year.Other environmental design efforts covered an air-conditioning system, surface water exploitation and ventilation system.

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posted by midori mizu

Aug 2, 2008

Beijing Olympic Countdown 2: The Bird's Nest

October 2002 -- Design competition
In October 2002, BOCOG engaged architects worldwide in a design contest. After six-months of fierce competition, the consortium formed by Herzog & de Meuron (Switzerland), Ove Arup (UK) and China Architecture Design & Research Group managed to beat out the competitors with a design for a stadium that would resemble a bird's nest, which is now the nickname of the stadium.
December 2003
-- Groundbreaking
Ground was broken on Christmas Eve in 2003, and construction started in March 2004, though the project would be suspended in July 2004 to allow for design modifications tailored to the concept of "economical Olympics."

November 2004
-- Revision of design
Maintaining the original design concept, the revised proposal resulted in 22.3 percent less steel used and a 13 percent reduction in membrane material by abandoning the convertible cover and enlarging the opening in the roof.

August 2006
-- Steel structure welding completed
Welding of the steel structure was completed on August 31. Over 100 skilled welders started their work on August 23, using a total of 2,000kg of welding rods. The whole steel structure weighs 42,000 tons.
September 2006 -- Removal of the steel structural truss

The removal of the steel structural truss of the National Stadium was finished successfully at 11:10 a.m. on September 17. It took three days, from September 14 to September 17, to remove the structural truss of the National Stadium. The successful removal of the structural truss of the National Stadium was an indication that Chinese experts and builders had solved all difficulties in the construction of the stadium's steel structure.

June - November, 2007 -- Membrane covering installed on Bird's Nest

The membrane covering of the Bird's Nest is curved and double-layered, providing decorative, soundproof, wind-proof, rain-proof, and even UVA protection to its already impressive body.The outer layer is made of ETFE panels and the inner layer consists of PTFE material.
November 2007 -- Interior decoration
Decoration of the interior started in November 2007, after the completion of the concrete, steel and membrane structures. In December, ornamental trees were planted around the Bird's Nest.

January 2008 -- Seats installed

All 80,000 seats had been installed on the stands as of January 28, 2008. Made of modified polypropylene, the seats have shown excellent performance in flexural and impact strength tests, and they are customized to offer comfort to the spectators. The colors of the seats will remain fade-resistant for three years under ultraviolet radiation.

February 2008 -- Illuminating facilities tested

The illuminating facilities were put into operation on the night of February 4, 2008. The red lights and grey steel structures of the project make up a splendid addition to the capital city's nightscape.

April 2008 -- Synthetic track installed

The stadium was covered with 140,000 sq. m. top quality synthetic track surfaces from Italy on April 12, 2008.

May 2008 -- Mobile turf installed

The Bird's Nest turned green on May 14, 2008, after workers and soldiers laid down 7,811 square meters of mobile turf. The process took 24 hours. Now the Bird's Nest is ready for the Olympics.

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posted by midori mizu

Mass Dissemination of Architecture Through Film

Came stumbled across this site and realized the Bird's Nest Herzog & de Meuron Film is to be released this week at some theaters across Japan.
Well, this is cool, finally chances are there for us walking into the theater to watch ourselves. Like I said in the blog's first post, Maggie Cheung made Ole Schereen known to the general public, and we certainly got closer than ever to celebrityhood after this film's release XD

Seriously, it is a great way to mass disseminate architectural message to the general public (we need this in Malaysia) where such consciousness in this field is relatively weak. Such films may effectively correct the views of the local public on us architects, and take us with better regards that we deserve.

To those who can afford: Buy a dvd copy from the official website & lend it to your neighbours !!

posted by afterrabbit

World Architecture Community

Invitation to all architects of the world: Contribute in the making of the future of architectural thought
World Architecture Community, launched on March 1, with 200 honorary members including Hans Hollein, Mario Botta, and Fumihiko Maki, is probably the first interactive database created to provide an opportunity for all local practices to become internationally recognized. Unique features of this portal enable all members to contribute in the making of the future of architectural thought by submitting, discussing, editing, rating, sharing their work.
While there are many channels that promote architecture, WA will probably be the first interactive database created to provide an opportunity for all local practices to present their work to the international audience and become internationally recognized.
(to find out more..) (WAC home page)

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posted by afterrabbit

MR Materials

MR Materials! is a free Mental Ray materials and shader repository. Created by Russell Thomas, Founder/CEO of 3DAllusions LLC with the help of Jeff Patton, as a resource for CG artist using applications with integrated mental ray or standalone version. Special thanks to Jared Martin and Harry Bardak for MatLab translataions into Maya and XSI.
mental ray! has been used for years by high-end production software for the game and motion picture industry. For years it has been the default render engine for Softimage XSI and in relatively recent years an integrated option in Autodesk products 3DS Max/Viz and Maya. With the aid of the CG community it is hoped that a large repository of Mental Ray materials and shaders will be accumulated.Mr Materials! is a private project and subsidiary of 3DAllusions LLC and is NOT affiliated with Mental Images in anyway. Efforts will be made to continually extend invitations to software developers using and integrating Mental Ray to participate in the site and help it become successful and stable.
The site was started for the sole purpose of creating a material/shader repository to support users of mental ray by Russell Thomas CEO of 3DAllusions LLC with the help of Jeff Patton of Based on the open source GNU/GPL License content management system (CMS) Joomla's brand new next generation system, and integrated with a modified repository component by Black Sheep Research. The creators saw the great value that similar sites for alternate render engines provided and wanted to support their render engine of choice by creating a similar resource and supporting the community.
Thinking of Sharing your mental ray materials? Think Mr Materials!
(to find out more..)

The mental ray mats files are mostly(or all?) for max8 or 9 versions.. So yes have to abandon my (your) max7 already..

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posted by afterrabbit

Aug 1, 2008

Les Bains des Docks

The aquatic complex Les Bains des Docks (animation here), designed by the 2008 Prtizker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvel has just opened in the historical Port of Le Havre. Inspired by the Roman thermal baths, the 5,000-square-meter complex offers an eerily beautiful atmosphere of tranquility with the fantastic play of natural light soothing the eyes, the masterful acoustics pleasing the ears, and the pools and treatment areas taking care of the rest of the body.

Although the main “color” of the complex is white, each section’s distinct atmosphere and hue is created by flowing water curtains, color walls, and various textures and surface treatments. Each pool – lap-pool, children’s pool, whirlpools – is designed, shaped and lit to create a unique “private space” for its specific users. These seemingly enclosed areas help minimize echoing and sound carriage – an annoying aspect of most aquatic centers -- as do the varying-height floors and ceilings, and the acoustic false ceilings. Saunas, a hammam, cold and hot baths, and a spa area with hydro-massage and aquagym areas complete the atmosphere of pampering and care. An external lagoon makes the summer use of the complex even more appealing. (to find out more..)

Bits of Therme Vals flashed through my head while watching the animation. Nonetheless, love the cubist expression throughout that results in the very pure, highly static realms, and water (& people) becomes the absolute source of liveliness and dynamics.

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posted by afterrabbit

Beijing Olympic Countdown 1: From Mao to Wow!

Just as many of New York City’s most iconic landmarks rose in breathtakingly brief succession a century ago, Beijing has been re-inventing itself since 2001 with a rush of showstopping buildings by internationally renowned architects: Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron’s National Stadium, Steven Holl’s Linked Hybrid complex, Rem Koolhaas’s China Central Television headquarters, and Norman Foster’s Terminal 3. On the eve of a controversial Olympics, Kurt Andersen sees China’s true promise in a more enduring spectacle of daring commissions, bravura engineering, and creatively humanistic design. (to find out more..)

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posted by midori mizu

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