$2 Million House “Staves Off Death”?

Transmitted on Nov 30 2008 to design & architecture

“If we change what surrounds you, we can change you”, says Madeline Gins, designer of this strikingly bizarre home. Bright, unusual colors, mountains in the living room, misaligned power outlets, and uneven surfaces make even mundane tasks into a challenge. The idea behind building such a monstrosity? Those constant challenges help keep your body and mind in a state of alertness, prepping them for stress and keeping you focused in the present. Nothing is simple; therefore, nothing becomes automatic.

A man who volunteered to stay in the house, known as Bioscleave, described the experience as a continual effort. “Constantly you’re getting this contrasting information. [...] You either collapse, or you have to figure it out a different way.”

The team of Gins and her assistant, the artist Arakawa, have spent four decades studying ways “architecture might best be used to sustain life,” according to their website. That’s all well and good, but does constant confusion really help boost the immune system as they claim?

Are Gins and Arakawa just nuts, or are they on to something? Let me know what you think in the comments.

(via Wired)

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The Post-Digital Lifestyle

Transmitted on Sep 23 2008 to technology

I recently came upon the term “post-digital”, here described by its (presumed) creator, John Maeda.

I am often asked what my term “post digital” signifies. It is a term that I created as a way to acknowledge a distinction between those that are passed [sic] their fascination with computers, and are now driven by the ideas instead of the technology. It is not an expression of Luddite-ism nor is it a loaded term like that icky “post modernism” business. If we are to consider the book by Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital, as an affirmation that the computer has arrived, then the “post digital” generation refers to the growing few that have already been digital, and are now more interested in Being Human. Buying a good computer is easy. Being a good person is something that cannot be merely bought… even on the great god of eBay.

This idea is really interesting for a few reasons: for one, it’s important to realize that technological “breakthroughs” don’t necessarily signify real progress. The only progress we can measure is what happens in our own heads, the awareness we have of ourselves and our world, the new thinking that comes with these new technologies. If we don’t acquire a fundamentally new (or fundamentally more complete) reality as a result of our technologies, we are actively losing ground.

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Illusory Designs & Mind-Hacking Carparks

Transmitted on Aug 09 2008 to design & architecture

Axel Peemoeller’s phenomenal treatment of Melbourne’s “Eureka” carpark uses distorted signage splayed across entire walls, beams, and floors; nearly illegible at close range, at the right height and distance the words become two-dimensional, literally “popping out” of the walls and directing drivers where to go.

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Peemoeller says that the design has one “numerous international awards” but has not mentioned which. The amount of work that went into this is clearly worthy of such awards! I’m still not entirely sure how a project like this gets put together.

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I would especially love to see this in motion–watching the perfectly-clear letters begin to distort and flicker into meaninglessness would be amazing. Any Australians want to put up some video? :)

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Taipei’s 728-Ton Pendulum– In Motion

Transmitted on Jun 27 2008 to design & architecture

Many (if not all) high-rise buildings are designed to withstand tremendous shock by “flexing” in respond to wind and events on the ground. Newer and much larger buildings, such as those currently going up in Dubai, Beijing and Bangalore, include massive counterweights to re-stabilize afterwards. These are referred to as “tuned mass dampers” or “harmonic absorbers”, and are also used in restabilizing cars and airplanes.

One of the more beautiful of these, linked from the Long Now blog, is the 728-ton mass damper in use in Taiwan’s “Taipei 101″ building. During the recent earthquakes, someone was able to film this massive pendulum in action. Pretty amazing.

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