$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)

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.

“Shapeshifting” Architecture from Dubai

Transmitted on Jun 26 2008 to design & architecture

CNN reports on a phenomenal “shape-shifting” building going up in Dubai known as the Dynamic Tower. The building has independent movement across each of its floors via the use of wind turbines: it can be “moved” constantly throughout the day, and appear essentially unique in every moment. The sheer scale of the project should not be underestimated. Its architect, New York-based architect David Fisher, says that

It’s not a piece of architecture somebody designed today and that’s it. It remains forever. It’s designed by life, shaped by time.

The building boasts a number of innovations, including being entirely prefabricated (which will construct in six days what typically takes nearly six weeks), as well as generating enough wind power to sustain similar-sized buildings (well, maybe not…).
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There is some (predictable) skepticism, since the architect has never built a skyscraper before, but he claims that a solid team is in place to help work out all the kinks. Either way it’s truly stunning, both conceptually and visually.

A rendering of a future Dynamic Tower going up in Moscow
I am becoming increasingly certain that an arriving movement in art will involve “radical dynamism”, or the alteration of work as it is being displayed, in a way that is not at all performance art. This has certainly been seen before (on some levels) in the form of mobiles and moving sculptures (both of which are, in many ways, still performance art) but I’ve become very interested in the concept of work that has both inalterable (permanent) change as well as unique (non-cylical) motion, perhaps derived in some way from the technological deluge of the Web and our daily lives (ie. in response to memes). This building certainly hits on the latter, but short of the wear and tear of everyday use it does not (yet) accomplish the former. Still, it may help usher in the “dynamic era”… and I would love to see any examples of this kind of work, if they exist.

Dubai ’shape-shifting skyscraper’ unveiled – CNN.com


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