Graphisoft’s BIMx for iPad and iPhone – interaction with your project’s BIM model on an Apple mobile device of your choosing. Not exactly a new concept – Autodesk has had AutoCAD WS out for some time now – but I’ve recently become more interested in how team coordination is handled from a technological standpoint. Eliminating the need to find a computer or print something in order to react to what might be a straightforward question/comment seems incredibly useful to me. While BIMx as shown in the videos seems more like a way to get a 3d walk-through of a project, I imagine it can also function similarly in some ways to AutoCAD WS – which shares actual CAD files and allows for viewing & (very) simple editing.
Unfortunately, none of this is ever going to free us from being tethered to a desk & computer screen most of the time – drafting is drafting. It’ll be interesting to see how these new technologies are integrated into the construction industry, and whether they develop into something more impactful.
Rachel Armstrong: Architecture that repairs itself?
Venice, Italy is sinking. To save it, Rachel Armstrong says we need to outgrow architecture made of inert materials and, well, make architecture that grows itself. She proposes a not-quite-alive material that does its own repairs and sequesters carbon, too.
Rachel Armstrong is a medical doctor, multi-media producer, science fiction author and arts collaborator. Her current research explores architectural design and mythologies about new technology. She is working with scientists and architects to explore cutting-edge, sustainable technologies.
Armstrong’s hope is that, in the future, cities will be able to replace the energy they draw from the environment, respond to the needs of their populations and eventually become regarded as “alive” — in the same way we think about parks or gardens. Since “metabolic materials” are made from terrestrial chemistry, they would not be exclusive to the developed world, and would have the potential to transform urban environments worldwide.
Basically, this woman is working to put us all out of work…
::Video Sundays is a weekly feature here on AMNP. For more architecture-related videos, click on any Sunday in the sidebar calendar, or on the “videos” category in the archjutsu section. And don’t hesitate to submit suggestions for video features to architecture[at]myninjaplease[dot]com::
They’re not quite the holograms we all grew up seeing in sci-fo movies – but they’re still pretty sick. Produced by Zebra Imaging, these “3-D” images are printed on boards which will then showcase changing views of an object from all angles. So, unlike those holographic trading cards you had as a kid these new images by Zebra can be rotated for 360 degree views of the objects depicted.
I would think this was more revolutionary, if I thought that there were architecture firms that could actually afford to implement this technology. Maybe if this had come out in the mid-to-late 90’s we would all be using it by now – but I don’t think I see it catching on anytime soon, taking the economy and all that into consideration.
[click images for larger view]
The future well being of cities around the globe depends on mankind’s ability to develop and integrate sustainable technology.
Sydney, Australia-based LAVA [Laboratory for Visionary Architecture] has been named the winner of an international competition to design a city center for Masdar – the super green city designed by Foster + Partners for Abu Dhabi, UAE. LAVA envisions Masdar Plaza as an “Oasis of the Future”, highlighting a number of various sustainable technologies while creating an engaging urban plaza that ‘stimulates social interaction’. They’ve focused on adressing three issues which they’ve deemed key to the project:
1. Performance – to demonstrate the use and benefits of sustainable technology in a modern, dynamic, iconic architectural environment.
2. Activation – to activate or operate the sustainable technology in accordance with the functional needs of this environment, 24 hours a day, and 365 days of the year.
3. Interaction – to encourage and stimulate a social dynamic where the life, values, ideals, and vision of the population of Masdar evolve.
The major architectural feature of the plaza is a number of lily pad-like ‘umbrellas’, reminiscent of Wright’s dendriform columns in the Johnson Wax Headquarters. These ‘umbrellas’ provide much-needed shade during the day, and further strengthen the ‘oasis’ metaphor by creating a multi-layer canopy with ‘umbrellas’ of varying heights and sizes. These shading devices are not static, however – they open and close, allowing for an unobstructed view of the sky after sunset. LAVA claims the design is based on the sunflower, stating that the ‘umbrellas’ are to be solar-powered – and that part of their function will be to absorb heat during the day, to be released during the cool desert night.
As in the case of an oasis, the Plaza is the social epicentre of Masdar; opening 24-hour access to all public facilities. Interactive, heat sensitive technology activates low intensity lighting in response to pedestrian traffic and mobile phone usage. The Plaza is able to change into an outdoor cinema for international events and national celebrations. Buildings surrounding the Plaza form gorges, evoking mystical comparisons with the Grand Canyon and the entrance to Petra.
The ‘Oasis of the Future’ demonstrates sustainable technology in a user-friendly architectural environment – flexible use of space, outdoor and indoor comfort, and optimum performance.
These large ‘umbrellas’ are not unknown to desert climates. While this design proposed by LAVA is fairly high-tech and cutting edge, similar shading devices can be seen in regions with a similar climate – in particular, I’m thinking of the large shading structures at the Al Hussein Mosque near the Khan El Khalili bazaar in Cairo, Egypt [images: 1, 2, 3]. While square rather than circular, these structures providing shade for an outdoor prayer space are essentially the same as those proposed by LAVA. I can’t remember, but I think they may even have a specific name? Drop a comment if you know anything more about these ‘umbrellas’, or if you’ve seen them being used in other locations.
All that said, I don’t mean to take away from LAVA’s design, which looks like it could be a beautiful space. The layering of so many of these structures is incredibly visually interesting, while being simple enough to not be ‘in your face’ – I can only imagine that the lighting in the plaza will be incredibly dope with all of these ‘umbrellas’ open.
::view more images of this project at here AMNP’s Flickr page::
::images, info + quoted text courtesy of Laboratory for Visionary Architecture::
“Light Graffiti” is obviously increasingly popular – and now artists can get specialized LED ‘spray cans’ that emulate the feel and action of a can of spray paint.
halo is a handy light-writing tool, preserving the techniques and gestures that graffiti artists use with spray cans. It is possible to change the color and the brightness of the led to change the graffiti’s styles. If the light doesn’t have enough battery, users simply have to shake it to have energy again.
Designed by Aissa Logerot, the ‘cans’ are equipped with the same technology as those shakeable flashlights – a small capacitor is powered by shaking the ‘can’, which runs a coil of wire over a magnet. Changing the cap allows the user to change LED colors [and maybe sizes?].
I have to admit – recent and ongoing developments in ‘augmented reality’ user interfaces have me kind of geeked. Integrating technology into our lives in increasingly seamless ways is both exciting to me in a ‘the future is now’ kind of way – and for the possibility of un-tethering ourselves, while remaining somehow connected to the ‘net [or whatever] in a more ‘real’, integrated [and maybe less anti-social] way. Not that any of this has to do with this iPhone app giving you directions in the subway…
From the developers:
When you load the app, holding it flat, all lines of the New York subway are displayed in coloured arrows. By tilting the phone upwards, you will see the nearest stations: what direction they are in relation to your location, how many miles away they are and what lines they are on. If you continue to tilt the phone upwards, you will see stations further away, as stacked icons. Only available to Apple iPhone 3GS users.
But yeah – looks pretty dope. I’m really interested to see how architecture and design respond to these kind of developments – and what they will mean for public space, in particular.
Now, a sensible ninja would wonder: how could something called “Hyphae Design Lab” not be associated with myninjaplease? The answer, of course, is that it would be impossible. That said, I can’t believe we didn’t get a shout-out…
Moving along – our ninja Brent started the Hyphae Design Lab, and is designing innovative greywater systems out in the Bay-area. Long story short, we are incredibly water-innefficient [in the US, and globally], and in order to move towards a green / sustainable future we need to seriously overhaul the way we think of water and waste systems, particularly those in our homes. Brent has some ideas how we can do that, and discusses his vision / concepts in this video feature for DWELL.
Jane Poynter tells her story of living two years and 20 minutes in Biosphere 2 — an experience that provoked her to explore how we might sustain life in the harshest of environments.
While Minority Report wasn’t a great movie by any means [a police force arresting people for ‘future’ crimes based on the ‘visions’ of what were essentially crack-babies? please], the vision of a near future portrayed by the filmmakers was incredibly compelling. Eye scans at stores? Probably going to happen. Cars that get on the highway and drive themselves? Already in development. And now Pattie Maes and Pranav â€˜Zombieâ€™ Mistry of the MIT Media Lab have even developed a portable version of the dope computer interface that Tom Cruise used to flip through images of future murders – minus the disturbing violent crime content.
Called SixthSense, the device is a ‘wearable gestural interface’ – giving the wearer/user the ability to project a display on any surface and then interact with that display using simple hand gestures. More than a simple computer that is projected on a wall, the device aims to provide nearly seamless integration of technology and the internet with everyday life. Don’t pull out your iPhone to google something you’ve just seen – simply ‘click’ on a button that SixthSense projects on whatever/whoever you’re looking at for more information.
And their prototype only costs $350. That’s less than I paid for my first iPod, I’m sad to say.
So let’s say they develop a working version of this that goes to mass production – which they, or someone else, will – and that you don’t need to wear a projector around your neck and a laptop on your back. Maybe a cellphone in your pocket, and some kind of contact-lens display a la Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End [not a good book, but interesting for it’s vision of the future of the ‘net and user interfaces]. We then have this technology, and the laptop/netbook trend dies on the spot. Desktops are for serious 9 to 5 work and little else. How does this affect the way we see our environment? How does this affect the way we design?
Up until now, architecture in particular has barely started to consider the integration of new, internet-age technologies in terms of how they affect our interactions with the space we inhabit [mostly because they haven’t]. Space for a computer and desk, or for you flat-screen TV is considered – maybe even an open wall for projecting [but only in one area]. Does the development of something like SixthSense mean that we begin to consider the implications of the world as one giant web interface – or does it mean that design no longer has to take these technologies into consideration at all?
I guess I’m interested in the minimalist and post-technological possibilities this type of technology may foster. Increased ambiguity of a space’s purpose, and additional value given to the flexibility of spaces – along with the idea that when you turn off your tech, its gone – could be exciting.
Our ninja ‘jhawkred’, from The University of Kansas, hit us up with this video of CityEngine 2009 at work – a procedural city modeling tool that generates some pretty kick-ass environments. Here in the video it’s used to create ‘NYC 2259’, as seen in Luc Besson’s sci-fi must-see The Fifth Element.