August 20, 2012

Tree House Restaurant: Naha Harbor Diner

Naha Harbor Diner

In Gaiumaru, Japan, the Naha Harbor Diner sits perched on massive branches about 20 ft above the ground, looking out over the ocean. Accessible by a spiral stairway and an elevator built within the tree trunk. The restaurant has a reputation of being quiet and elegant, while serving some of the best Japanese, Thai, Korean, Chinese and Indian food in all of Okinawa.

August 6, 2012

Huf Haus: Energy Efficient Prefab Homes

HUF House ART 8, source

For many years, HUF HAUS has been internationally recognized for their innovative timber-frame architecture that epitomizes the synergy between wood and glass. The name unites the careful evolution of the classic timber framed structure with the revolution in energy efficiency. Relevant details on the energy efficiency of new HUF Houses can be found on their homepage. A HUF house creates a comfortable design creating an ideal place from which to observe nature. Every HUF House is unique, designed for each individual client by a HUF architect.

June 8, 2012

Rural Studio: Bryant (Hay Bale) House

The Bryant House, finished in 1994 was the Rural Studio's first completed building. The Bryant household, Shepard and Alberta with their grandchildren lived in a rickety shack without heat or plumbing and enough holes to let in rain, insects and reptile visitors. When the structure was about to collapse, the Hale County's Department of Human Services told Samuel Mockbee about his situation and Mockbee asked Shepard if they could help.

June 7, 2012

Rural Studio: The Yancey Chapel

In 1994, while fifth year student Ruard Veltman and Mockbee were admiring the light filtering through the bottles embedded in Shepard Bryant's smoke house, Veltman said his thesis group wanted to "do something like this" for their thesis project, Mockbee replied: "Why don't y'all build a chapel?" Soon afterwards, Mockbee was talking to an Auburn University supporter and cow farmer, Lemuel Morrison where she offered to let the students build the chapel on her Sawyerville farm to help lower building costs.

Solution to Your Home's "Phantom Current Load"

The likely culprit resulting in 'phantom current loads' in the home are electronics. When a TV or monitor are plugged in they are in standby mode requiring some electricity. These devices, as well as any chargers you might have are always on, even if the device is off or not charging resulting in the phantom current load or current load leakage. Electronics are dc not ac and thus requite a transformer to lower the voltage from 120 to around 9V and they all have one. Stereos, DVD players, printers, etc. all contain transformers and as a result are on even while they're off.  Standby mode on devices implies that a small current passes through a device to allow it to be turned on by a remote, so if it gets turned on by a remote, it is costing you money even when it is 'off.

June 3, 2012

Urban Sprawl: London after WWII

Screenshot from the following video from the BBC

Story: Birth of the New Town

Duration: 3:48

After World War II, London was threatened by endless urban sprawl, the government's solution was the introduction of greenbelts surrounding the city. New towns such as Harlow in East Anglia were created outside the greenbelt, complete with its own housing, commercial and manufacturing.

June 2, 2012

Bike Share System by RAFAA

New Bike Share System in Copenhagen by RAFAA

The Zurich based architect and designer Rafael Schmidt, along with his Studio RAFAA, won the Reddot Design Award in 2010. 

April 26, 2012

Addressing the Informal City: Medellin, Colombia

Medellin, Columbia - The poorer neighborhoods are located on the hills, along the outskirts of downtown. Source

In the following lecture, Medellin's former mayor, Sergio Fajardo, explains how opportunities are provided in the poorest of neighborhood was achieved and how he addressed the three major issues in society inequality, violence, and corruption. Building schools, public spaces, apartment buildings, bridges, cable car line, soccer fields, etc in the poorest of places, which provides the same quality of building as seen in the richest parts of town. Fajardo states that his success is linked to his transparency in office, it all was completed 'without stealing a single peso' during his time in office. Political Equator 3 was organized by Teddy Cruz of UC San Diego in 2011.

See Also:

Addressing the Informal City: Europe

Over 50 Millions people in 15 member States of the United Nation economic Commission for Europe live in informal settlements

April 24, 2012

A Modern Energy Drain

Secrets to Lower Your Electrical Costs

With energy prices in constant fluctuation, knowing more about how electronic devices function can save you money that you didn't know your wasting. Following these simple tips will allow you to save upwards of $40 a year on your electric bill.
Pretty much everybody understands that lowering their electric bill means using less electricity. By far the simplest way to lower your electric bill is by turning off the lights when not in the room or replacing burned-out incandescent bulbs with high-efficiency LED or CFL bulbs. Upgrading your existing fridge, stove or any other appliance to a more efficiency model will also save you money on your electric bill. Due to increased regulations of household appliance efficiencies, even the cheapest appliances are more efficient than appliances 5–10 years old and would help lower anyone's electrical utility costs. Short of spending hundreds of dollars, what else can you do to lower your costs? The secret lies in all your electronic devices.

Content Source: Secrets to Lower Your Electrical Costs

April 22, 2012

Addressing the Informal City: Europe

United Nations

This report by the UN discusses sustainable solutions for informal settlements in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Over 50 Millions people in 15 member States of the United Nation economic Commission for Europe live in informal settlements. Rapid urbanization, poverty and lack of access to land or ownerships has resulted in many to build their homes illegally under very poor environmental and social conditions. The following link, is a downloadable pdf from the UN on ways to address the issues in the informal settlement.

See also:

Addressing the Informal City: Medellin, Colombia

April 7, 2012

Platform of Hope

Platform of Hope - source:

Korail is the largest slum in the fastest growing mega city Dhaka in Bangladesh. Its 120,000 residences are under a constant threat of eviction, without security of tenure, on land becoming more valuable. the UNEP projects the city to grow to 23 million and become the world's second largest city.

Before - Still from video below

In Korail's dense fabric open space is at a premium, children play wherever they can. Living with the Pervez family in Korail, Khondaker Hasibul Kabir, an architect, landscape architect and lecturer at BRAC University, collaborated over a three year period with the Pervez family to initiate a new public space, the Platform of Hope. With the help of a local carpenter and bamboo worker, they designed and built a 18 x 36 ft (5.5 x 11 meter) platform extending over Gulshan Lake connected to a lush community garden.

After - Still from Video Below

Local Craftsmen - source:

They designed the platform for children living in the area. It is a clean new space where they may play, sing, dance, socialize, learn about plants and read books from a small library. In the evening, families gather for relaxation and enjoy the view over the water.


Despite the treat of eviction local residents have the skills and willingness to change their unhealthy surroundings. With knowledge shared on the platform and through its construction, nearby dwellings are slowly transforming, increasing lighting and ventilation. The platform and garden have generated hope toward a cleaner, greener place.


Designers: Khondaker Hasibul Kabir, with Fourkan Pervez, Nasima Pervez, Faria Farzana Tithi, and Tuhofa Tasmi Tisha. Construction: Odut Ahmed, Saiful Islam. Plant/seed collection: Abdun Nime. Korail, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2008–11. Bamboo, nuts, bolts, nails


New Wan Chai Ferry Pier and Helipad

source CEED Hong Kong Development

This project in Hong Kong proposes a ferry pier and helipad on the new Wan Chai waterfront. With the commercial backdrop the new ferry pier would service both the east and the west. The new government helipad would also be shared by commercial helicopters which is located near Golden Bauhinia Square.

Ferry Pier

source CEED Hong Kong Development
Main Design Ideas

  • Public landscaped observation deck with covering providing views
  • Abstract "wall-tree" pattern with open pier design to bring in natural ventilation through permeability and enhance the waterfront 
source CEED Hong Kong Development


source CEED Hong Kong Development

 Main Design Ideas
  • The façade of the two-story terminal building will be covered with glazed cladding embedded with a "wall-tree" pattern representing the history of Wan Chai area
  • Green roof will enhance the natural elements of the waterfront
  • Noise barrier will be decorated with abstract "wall-tree" graphic
source CEED Hong Kong Development

March 27, 2012

Regreen Guidelines

I recently found this free sustainable / green design guide from ReGreen. It is a complete book however it is free to download.

REGREEN Residential Remodeling Guidelines 2008, ASID & USGBC, 2nd
edition, 2008, ISBN: 978-1-932444-12-4.

Available as a free pdf download at

March 4, 2012

Teddy Cruz - Casa Familiar

Known for his conceptual design approach, the following video is an analysis of Casa Familiar and how small parcels might perform within the urban environment.

Casa Familiar: The Performance of a Small Parcel from on Vimeo.

This Video is more about the concept of rethinking ownership.

February 17, 2012

Pruitt Igoe

Built is At. Louis in the 1950's it is an example of modernism testing its theories of affordable housing. The Pruitt Igoe encompassed 2870 apartments with space for over 10,000 residences. This housing development brought together people fallen on hard times. Without parks, retail, or mixed use buildings, the area became inundated with crime and violence until its destruction in 1972.

They also have an ongoing design and Ideas competition

Additional Sources:
Pruitt Igoe Myth

February 15, 2012

Building 8 in Copenhagen Denmark by BIG

I was taken by this. It also looks like your living in a dream! It must be fantastic to have accessibility to public transportation and have amenities so close to home. This fantastic building was designed and built by BIG (Bjark Ingles Group).

8-House is located in Ørestad on the edge of Copenhagen. 8-House offers homes for people in all of life’s stages: the young and the old, singles, families that grow and families that become smaller. Instead of dividing the different functions of the building - for both habitation and retail - into separate blocks, the various functions have been spread out horizontally. The apartments are placed at the top while the commercial program unfolds at the base of the building. As a result, the different horizontal layers have achieved a quality of their own: the apartments benefit from the view, sunlight and fresh air, while the commercial merges with life on the street.

Ørestad, Denmark near Copenhagen
Gross Square Footage: 650,000 sf
Total Cost: $118 Million

Bjarke Ingles Group

Founded by Bjarke Ingles in 2006, the Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG) encompasses 64 architects working out of offices in Copenhagen Denmark and another one recently opened in New York City. This group can be characterized by creativity, high energy and a unifying team spirit, dedicated to the creation and maintaining of a workplace where they might continuously learn and become better at what they do. Not only is the firm budget conscious, they are constantly asking themselves, ‘What can the project provide for the neighborhood and its residents?‘“ Otherwise, ”the money is wasted and the opportunity is lost.” Ingles believes that a “pragmatic utopian architecture takes on the creation of socially, economically and environmentally perfect places as a practical objective.”


The block to be developed is located near a new transportation hub and a previous BIG project. They starting designing with a perimeter block, instead of stacking, they layered the components of the program one on top of the other like a cake: Commercial uses, including retail space, a café, a day care center, and offices, are placed near the base, so that they can benefit from direct contact with the street, while the different types of apartments — townhouse,  flats, and penthouses offer living for people in all life’s stages above. Penthouses, flats and townhouses for the young the old, singles, a growing family or empty nesters layer the upper levels where the apartments benefit from the view, sunlight and fresh air, while the commercial merges with life on the street. Normally social interactions are reserved to ground level, whereas here a ramp provides social interactions all the way to the top of the building to produce a ‘lively urban neighborhood.” This sense of community is also increased with a 5,300 sf of community space. It is still too early to tell if these ideas will see fruition, however time will dictate its success.

More Bike Friendly Architecture
Bike Share System by RAFAA


8H - The 8-House from BIG on Vimeo.

The follow video documents how the  8 House has fared since its construction and looks at its success as a building project.


February 12, 2012

Liubov Popova

Liubov Popova was a Russian avant-garde artist, painter and designer and lived from April 24, 1889 till May 25, 1924. As a female, her presence was rare in the male-dominated world of Soviet Art. Her art was Cubist, Suprematist and Constructivist. She was born in Ivanovshoe, near Moscow to a wealthy and successful textile merchant and patron of the arts. Her mother also came from a highly cultured family. She was originally trained at a teacher before pursuing her artistic studies. She traveled to investigate and learn new styles of painting. Numerous sketchbooks attest to her desire to apply Cubist analysis to the human figure after gaining first-hand knowledge of cubism she gained studying in Paris. At some point between In 1912 and 1915 she worked with Vladimir Tatlin at his studio in Moscow called the Tower working with his constructions. In 1916 she joined the Malevich’s Suprematist circle where she adopted the rectilinear geometry and white grounds of the Suprematists. Her abstract compositions were distinctive, powerful in which “large geometric planes, boldly colored but with elements of modelling, abut and interpenetrate to create taut and thrusting diagonal compositions.”1 In May of 1920, she joined Aleksandr Rodchenko and they were both pivotal figures in the discussions that defined Constuctivism. They compared an artist to that of an engineer, arranging materials scientifically and objectively, producing works of art as rationally as any other manufactured object.

Liubov’ Popova
Space-Force Construction, 1920-21
Oil with Marble dust of board
Collection George Costakis, Germany

Popova’s Space-Force Construction was made in response to the idea of ‘Construction’ in which a more impersonal method dictated by the materials and stripped if anything decorative or unnecessary. In the above composition, she utilized the creation of space though lines, planes and arcs in which the intersections between the different geometries to create space or planes between them, breaking down the dark color of what life once was with the Bourgeoise before the revolution. The red is clearly the driving force behind the tornado of change, replacing the old with the ideals of the revolution, spreading its force outward to encompass everything, breaking down the dark/gray construct of what had been. The orange seems to represent areas where the revolution had been, eventually turning these areas to the purity of white, representing the melding of everything together to form a utopia. The composition’s movement represents an agitation of the revolution and the affects of the upheaval. This agitation or break down starts to become visible with the dotting of one linear element as well as the implication of its movement outward and onward. This breakdown of rectilinear forms into its industrial components will surly follow. Some rectilinear elements, now absorbed, create an echo of what once was, leaving that imprint on the composition. The geometry and overlaps also imply three dimensionality to the composition


February 11, 2012


Brief history of Futurism with analysis of current futurism in art and movies.

Russian Constructivism Info

Constructivism is Russian's modern movement equivalent. 

Here are some videos on Russian Constructivism

Constructivism in Motion

I was doing a little research on constructivism for school and I stumbled upon this video.Whomever put this video together did an amazing job of it