Studio630 is the research blog of Kyle Rogler. This blog posts articles of work in architecture, urban design, technology, culture, and programming that currently influence me. Currently stationed at BNIM Architects.
"It makes little sense to expect our homeownership rates to rebound to what they were before the housing crisis. We need to accept the fact that the housing system we have today and will have tomorrow will have to be different from the one we had in the past."
"Why’re you taking a picture of the building? It’s fucking ugly."
With those words, a construction worker greeted me last Thursday as I approached the entrance to David Adjaye's Sugar Hill development, on the site of a former brownfield on West 155th and Saint Nicholas Avenue in West Harlem.
Some of New York City’s poorest residents will start moving into the 13-story, neo-brutalist housing complex in August. It’s a building that Mayor Bill de Blasio referred to as the ”epitome of everything we want to do with housing across the spectrum of incomes.”
While many applaud the purpose behind the new building, which will also have an early-education center and a children’s museum, few seem to think much of its design. "It has nothing to do with the rest of the neighborhood," said another worker on site. "Nobody likes it."
Hufft Projects is a design collective. Our studio combines all sorts of creative people from diverse backgrounds, people who are comfortable filling many roles. Gavin Snider is one of these creative types. Operating under the catch-all title of designer, Gavin tackles architecture, graphic design, blogging, PR and marketing here at Hufft Projects. Outside of the office, you may have seen him wandering the streets, pen in one hand and a sketchbook in the other. He stops to draw historic buildings and modern architecture, grain elevators and railroad tracks, rolling hills, open skies and the occasional sea monster. His architectural experience and illustrations inform one another.
Fifty years ago, Heineken developed a revolutionary and sustainable design solution to give its beer bottles a second life: as an architectural brick. The concept arose after brewing magnate Alfred Heineken visited Curacao during a world tour of his factories in 1960. He was struck by the amount of beer bottles—many bearing his name—littering the beaches and the lack of affordable building materials for residents. In a stroke of genius (or madness), Heineken realized both problems could be solved if beer bottles could be reused as structural building components. Enlisting the help of Dutch architect N. John Habraken, Heineken created a new bottled design—dubbed the Heineken WOBO (World Bottle)—that doubled as a drinking vessel and a brick. As author and architecture critic Martin Pawley notes, the WOBO was “the first mass production container ever designed from the outset for secondary use as a building component.” The new squared off bottle was both inter-locking and self-aligning, allowing it to nestle seamlessly and snugly into adjoining “bricks.” With Habraken’s design, a 10 by 10 foot hut could be constructed with 1,000 WOBO bottles. Though a test run of 100,000 bottles was produced in 1963, the marketing department’s worries about liabilities doomed the project. The WOBO was subsequently and unceremoniously retired. Though only two official WOBO buildings remain, both on the Heineken estate in Noordwijk near Amsterdam, the concept remains a powerful and inspiring one one. Indeed, the experiment is a reminder of how a major corporation might seriously take on sustainability in an innovative way.
One industry at a time, from health care to music, small companies are transforming how we discover and contract with professionals. Now Architizer is getting into the game. The site, best known for featuring architects’ portfolios, is betting that it can attract real estate developers and private owners with ground-up projects and match those buyers with its community of design talent.
"Architecture represents a great deal more than a need for shelter. At its best architecture engages with profound human issues. Even mundane and seemingly unimportant structures can be lifted by sensitive and intelligent design. My work as a photographer is predicated on a desire to broaden the conversation about our built environment, to be an advocate for design that elevates, to help construct an argument where good design isn’t an occasional, rare and special thing but an everyday, routine and expected event. Some of the most rewarding moments in my life have been spent in the company of the occupants of a new building, sharing in the pleasure and optimism that is to be found when a special place has been delivered."
Even though most buildings are designed using the latest digital tools, actual construction is stuck in the past; building is messy, slow, and inefficient. 3-D printing might change that, but recent projects like these printed houses in China demonstrate one of the technical challenges—the equipment itself has to be gigantic, because it can’t work unless it’s bigger than the building itself.
A team of researchers from Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia are working on another solution: A swarm of tiny robots that could cover the construction site of the future, quickly and cheaply building greener buildings of any size.
“Every day, all over the world, animals and insects set about the purposeful tasks of designing their homes, catching their prey, and attracting their mates. In the process they create gorgeous nests, shelters, and habitats. Capturing 120 of these wonders in all their beauty and complexity, Animal Architecture presents a visually arresting tribute to the intersection of nature, science, function, and design.”