Thursday, June 30, 2011

World's Longest Sea Bridge

A pleasant article and video on the marathon-length Qingdao Haiwan Bridge. The bridge would easily span the English Channel and is longer than the previous record-holder, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Home to seven of the world's 10 lengthiest bridges, perhaps China is the new land of engineering feats.

Monday, June 27, 2011

European planners stifling traffic

Yesterday in the New York Times was a fantastic article on street environments

The article briefly describes two opposite attitudes towards the street,in regards to vehicular and pedestrian activities. The New York Times describes that, "while American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation."

Overall a nice article, and an excellent point of departure for further discussion. Judging by the comments section of the New York Times online edition, the debate between the rights of vehicular versus pedestrian usage is indeed passionate.

Further reading

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Best Designer? Nature

Growing up in Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay has always been a part of my life, whether it has been skipping stones on its shores as a child, eating steamed blue crab or sailing in summers past. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and currently the Bay is in a serious state of environmental deterioration, due to overfishing, poor stormwater runoff, among other factors.

During my studies in school I became familiar with biomimicry after viewing a TED lecture by Janine Benyus. While enjoying a quick pint and some oysters, I thought again of this lecture and the opportunities to utilize biomimicry on an industrial scale. Why fight nature, when it could be possible to harness nature's abilities and in essence put Mother Nature to work.  Oyster filtration can mitigate water pollutants such as excess sediment, nutrients, and algae. An oyster can filter up to 5 litres (1.3 US gal) of water per hour. According to a NOAA report the Chesapeake Bay's once flourishing oyster population historically filtered excess nutrients from the estuary's entire water volume every three to four days. John Smith on his early exploration of the region described the Chesapeake Bay's water as being clear for meters, now the water is a far cry from this description. Today that would take nearly a year for this same process to continue.

According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation the Bay contains approximately 15 trillion gallons of water. Given the aforementioned data a single oyster could filter approximately 31.2 US gal of water per day, it would take roughly 480 billion oysters to filter the water in a single day, but given historical accounts of this process taking every three to four days one could safely assume that at peak population the Bay's oysters totaled around 150 billion. Furthermore given the current analysis that it takes almost a year to utilize the same filtration action on a rough estimate the population is a pale comparison.

Through carefully managed oyster farming, it is possible to harness the fantastic abilities of nature to counteract the effects of human pollution with relatively benign effects to the environment, and in some instances such as aforementioned a restorative effect.  With further study I hope to be able to assemble a comparative analysis of nature based cleaning programs with conventional programs. On a final note this process could be a viable solution to relieving pressure on land-based protein sources.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The 5 B's

The 5 Bs - bricks, banners, balloons, benches and berms - do NOT create streetlife. It is the available shopping that provides it.

- Andres Duany

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Parking is a narcotic and ought to be a controlled substance. It is addictive, and one can never have enough.

- Victor Dover


Founded by Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus School operated in the interwar period from 1919 to 1933 in Weimar. The principles behind the Bauhaus School operated under the idea of creating a 'total' work of art in which all disciplines of the arts, including architecture would eventually be unified. This Bauhaus style eventually became one of the most influential factors in the inception of  Modernist architecture and modern design. This post offers a glimpse into the Bauhaus complex designed by Walter Gropius  in Dessau, Germany.
Walter Gropius
First Floor Plan Bauhaus Building complex
Dessau, Germany, 1926

Walter Gropius
Balcony Details Bauhaus Building complex
Dessau, Germany, 1926
Walter Gropius
Renderings Bauhaus Building complex
Dessau, Germany, 1926

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Museum for the Decorative Arts

Museum for the Decorative Arts
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Richard Meier

Conceptual Sketch
Museum for the Decorative Arts
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Richard Meier

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Colosseo Quadrato

The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, also known as the Colosseo Quadrato ‘Square Colosseum’, is an icon of Fascist architecture. The Colosseo Quadraato lies in the Roman district of the Esposizione Universale Roma.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Transit v. Transit

As growth becomes denser, highway costs rise while transit costs decline.
 - Anonymous

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Manhattan of the desert

Shibam, Yemen
Contained within the desert towers are the earliest examples of high-rise apartment buildings

Soaring many stories over the desert city of Shibam, Yemen, desert towers scrape the Arabian sky. Often called "the oldest skyscraper city in the world" or "the Manhattan of the desert", Shibam is one of the oldest and best examples of urban planning designed around vertical construction. The city is home to the tallest mud buildings in the world, with some of them over 30 meters. Contained within the desert towers are the earliest examples of high-rise apartment buildings.

In order to protect the buildings from the elements, the façades are thickly coated with and must be routinely maintained.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Penguin Pool

Berthold Lubetkin and Tecton with Ove Arup
Penguin Pool, London Zoo
London, GB 1934

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Urban Living

No urban area will prosper unless it attracts those who can choose to live wherever they wish.

- Jonathon Barnett