November 6, 2011

Specular Reflectors

Reflectors are used in bring daylight into a building. Different shapes will vary the way light is reflected within the building. Reflectors are generally used to reflect light through clerestories into a structure.

Daylighting - Ventura Administration Building by Scott Ellinwood

Image from image by Mike Urbanez
Scott Ellinwood

Ventura Coastal Corporation's Administration Building in Ventura California designed by Scott Ellinwood uses natural daylighting techniques and won the Owens-Corning Fiberglass Energy Conservation Award in the Commercial Built Category in 1983. Ellinwood has also received three honor awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and he is also a LEED certified Professional.

Personal Sketch from Norbert Lechner's book "Heating, Cooling, Lighting: 
Sustainable Design Methods for Architects" original by Mike Urbanez.

Section Description

As we can see from the section, Ellinwood uses many different methods to bring indirect natural light into the building, direct lighting can be invasive to one's personal space and result in additional cooling costs. North facing windows (north is to the left) and a northern clerestory provides indirect lighting into the interior. The southern windows are shaded to block out direct sunlight (right) creating only indirect lighting in the interior using specular reflectors. The angled ceiling helps to direct the light deep within the building.

October 23, 2011

Evolution of the Kitchen

Since the 1950's the modern kitchen has evolved into a centralized place for family. The modern open plan creates the centralization of the kitchen within the home, keeping its activities out in the open verses behind closed doors. Islands and a more efficient work triangle creates a protected area where the domestic work may happen, unimpeded by family activities, yet completely connected to it with space that integrates others within it. This newly formed power triangle celebrates the home, centralizing its inhabitants within the kitchen, the heart or hearth of the home.

Below is a great diagram outlining the evolution of the kitchen since the 50's.

Here is a 1950's renovation by Dream Maker Kitchen and Bath of Ann Harbor Michigan. In their portfolio they refer to the project as "Open up and say ahhh." Very appropriate description. I found this remodel in their portfolio section here. It show nicely how a kitchen may be modified to connect with the home more. I'm not a fan of the soffit above the cabinets in the slightest, it is a very nice renovation though.



Architectural Beams

Evansville, Indiana - Image from Great Website to click through if your an architect or designer.This house is very interesting.

 I found this beam strategy interesting to help open up space within the home, lightening up the interior. Image from

October 17, 2011

Mezzanine Hammock?

This is a very cool idea for a loft area. Catch a quick nap, read a book or catch some breezes. I like this idea a lot.

October 14, 2011

Repurposing Cigarette Vending Machines

A publisher in Hamburg Germany is transforming old cigarette vending machines into book machines, replacing the cigarette packs with books, graphic novels and travel guides written by local authors. Books will cost only 4 euro, cheaper and healthier than a pack of cigarettes for sure.

Image from PSFK

October 10, 2011

Sustainability Thoughts

Sustainability has so many meanings. It can definitely be defined as a movement in architecture as seeb in academic circles and in professional practice. Things like LEED confuse the issues and increase final cost rather than embracing a cradle to cradle approach and I don’t think it quite fits in with sustainability. It is clear that Kevin Shea’s dome house is an example of a citizen’s movement away from traditional structures, yet the geodesic dome is the result of architectural invention and imagination. The geodesic dome does have advantages over traditionally formed structures and coupled with technology becomes a very sustainable solution to housing needs. I believe that it is up to the giant firms and Star-chitects to lead the evolution of these technologies and help to make them more readily available to the masses. Drawing attention to the problem our existence puts on the planet is very relevant to the future of all life. The grass roots effort though extreme in some regards, to me was to bring attention to the issues we have with our environment and talk about these issues and attempt to find solutions. Their effort brought the grassroots ideas into academia helping spur a new future with sustainable ideas and technology hopefully leading the design process. It is hopeful thinking on my part most likely. When I lived in Europe I did notice technologies there that have only recently been available here in the US. There is a clear desire for the technology to come into sync with our environment and hopefully within our lifetimes, we will see a drastic change in attitude so we might move forward with our evolution.

October 9, 2011

House Dome - Affordable Architecture

Kevin Shea's Long island geodesic dome is made from sustainably harvested wood standing 70 feet tall and 70 feet in diameter with fantastic daylighting throughout the year. It has its own solar array, wind turbine and a geothermal cooling system using a simple fan, and is heated by a pellet stove in the winter. His monthly utility bill is only 6 dollars! He also created a garden from 800 tires and an artificial lake made from crushed fiber optic cables.

Kevin Shea’s geodesic dome does raise questions about whether it is architecture or not. To me it is architecture, but has been reduced by capitalism from a Buckmister-Fuller architectural wonder, into a package home kit devoid of any integration by the architect to create the home. It is indeed architecture since the concept originated from an architect and is used to create the built environment but here we can clearly see the building devoid of architectural integration (internal aesthetics) and instead see the prefab home built in a place devoid of a designers touch created by the do it yourselfer on a budget rather than on commission by an architecture firm. The sustainable concepts within a geodesic dome may be further exploited by an architect who knows them fully and create space within the home with a true energy and space about them further connecting it to its natural surroundings. It is architecture on the basic level of necessity created by the homeowner which naturally results in a much decreased cost. The sustainable practices he employs within his home are definite architectural concepts and alternate building systems. This function of architecture Shea succeeded in creating a true marvel of architecture which begs me to answer the question yet again of aesthetics and architecture. To me the house is a great architectural precedence to further explore what creates and infuses a space with energy decreasing the strain on the environment from our habitation resulting in a symbiotic relationship with the earth and its cycles.

September 25, 2011

Holographic Architectural Imaging from Zebra

I can't believe they figured out how to make a 3D computer file of a building into a 3D holograph. I only wish this would pass as a final model in studio! How much?

Holographic Architectural Imaging by Zebra from Core77 on Vimeo.

Domestic Transformer

Domestic Transformer - src

This small apartment moves around it's creator Gary Chang in Hong Kong China where he maximized efficiency of the space creating a tiny apartment that can transform into 24 different rooms.