Just thought this was pretty dope. Continue about your day.
For starters, if you havenâ€™t checked out the video of Steve Jobs presenting this proposal to the Cupertino City Council, I highly recommend it. Skip around a bit, itâ€™s not all great stuff â€“ but Jobsâ€™ interaction with the board itself is pretty hilarious. I would love to one day be able to go before a city/town/whatever to get a project approved and simply say â€œwe should be able to build this because we pay a butt-load of taxes and can easily move somewhere elseâ€. Very ninja-like.
Iâ€™m going to go ahead and assume (a mistake, I know) at this point that most of you have already seen at least some of these renderings of Foster+Partnerâ€™s proposal for the new Apple campus in Cupertino. The â€˜officialâ€™ news that this was a Foster+Partners project is recent, but it seemed as if everyone was guessing at it from the renderings alone (which are quite beautiful). From there we come to the real question, which is seemingly making itâ€™s way through the web (at least in the comments and op-eds): is it any good?
Iâ€™m coming out in favor of it â€“ for now. Sure, itâ€™s huge. Yes, it looks like someone knocked over Jobsâ€™ Stargate. No, itâ€™s not my favorite project in the world. But the images are fairly compelling, suggesting a newly created, almost pastoral, landscape with a sleek, high-tech building within. While the building itself is pretty enormous, especially when considered in plan, the four storey height lends it more human scale. Plus, Iâ€™m interested to see if the circumference of the building is tight enough to actually create views like the ones shown in the renderings â€“ which suggest that the building will feel as if it recedes away around itself (does that make sense?). Basically it seems to me that if it doesnâ€™t feel too broad from the approach, and is detailed in a way we know Foster+Partners is capable of, then it should look pretty dope.
On to the criticisms!
Iâ€™ve been amused by some of the flack the building is getting. Our lack of knowledge of the interiors has been pointed out by some â€“ leading at least one critic to assume it will simply contain cubicles and typical work-spaces, leaving any innovation for the fancy glass exterior. I obviously have no idea â€“ but Iâ€™ll say again, itâ€™s Foster+Partners. Benefit of the doubt, the work spaces probably wonâ€™t suck.
Confusion over the circular plan has also been raised as an issue, as has the idea of walking forever in such a longÂ (circumference) building. Just looking at the plan showâ€™s that the building is broken-up internally into eight distinct areas and a cafe (more like a cafeteria or food hall, by the size of it). These individual areas are marked by cores, which appear to house the vertical circulation, bathrooms, etc â€“ basically like any office building. The idea that in California youâ€™ll walk inside around the circle simply seems idiotic â€“ plus, it doesnâ€™t look to be whatâ€™s drawn. I may be completely off base, but the drawings suggest that youâ€™d descend out into the central courtyard and make your way to another part of the building by crossing the outdoor space, rather than walk around inside â€“ which actually seems simpler to navigate than a large office park (the typical option in a place like Cupertino). Walk outside, look around briefly for the entrance youâ€™re searching for (youâ€™d be able to see them all from the exit you just used), and walk through a park to you 2PM meeting.
Another issue that has been raised is that the project isnâ€™t â€˜urbanâ€™ enough â€“ that is doesnâ€™t address itâ€™s context. To which I say, itâ€™s in Cupertino. From the look of it the HP campus is scaled and spaced appropriately for the surrounding context and is mostly asphalt and spread-out buildings â€“ hard to say this proposal couldnâ€™t be an improvement. This project would be awful on the East Coast, donâ€™t get it twisted â€“ but this is how the West was laid out. Plus, look at the numbers Jobsâ€™ gives out at the City Council meeting: +20% building area with -30% building footprint (so the density there isnâ€™t great to begin with), +350% landscape (underground and structured parking, no streets), +60% in the number of trees â€“ all while increasing the number of employees. Sure, itâ€™s really suburban â€“ but so is Cupertino, and a ton of the West Coast. I realize that the suburban quality being the norm is the exact cause for the criticism, but Iâ€™m not sure I believe thereâ€™s much Apple could do about that other than move someplace else. Theyâ€™re not going to turn Cupertino into San Fran with their new campus.
All of that praise / justification / defense aside, it does have a slightly creepy â€œweâ€™re all watching each otherâ€ vibe â€“ and if Steve builds a little tower in the middle we should all start to worry. The enclosed nature of the project is so inward-looking that you can imagine these Apple employees never speak to anyone outside the company. Iâ€™m hoping that the areas outside the circle itself are actually open to the public â€“ which is ridiculous, I know, but it would be providing Cupertino with what looks like a great park â€“ and provide the public with a certain amount of a view into Apple (not going to happen, Iâ€™m sure).
Like I opened with â€“ it could be a flop. But for now Iâ€™m going to sit back and trust that one of my favorite architecture firms and my favorite tech company (also the most profitable tech company) know what theyâ€™re doing. I donâ€™t need to hate in order to manufacture hits for AMNP. Plus, when the wormhole is established and they start sending people through this thing to explore the galaxy I want to have been on Appleâ€™s side. Steve, you can feel free to send me a free Macbook Air or Ipad 2 for this great write-up in the meantime.
Found this via Rojkind Arquitectos on Twitter â€“ instagram photo of Renzo Pianoâ€™s California Academy of Sciences building, which reminded me of the planets from Le Petit Prince. Simple, yet awesome â€“ couldnâ€™t help but post it over here.
I don’t really think I’m a fan of the museum as a whole [link below], but this staircase is SICK! Too bad they’ll have to give it some handrails – you know, to keep people from falling to their death and all that…
Thanks to our ninja Matt K for the link.
I’m sure that nearly everyone has already seen this increasingly popular short video, entitled The Third & The Seventh, by Alex Roman – but it’s just too dope not to have it here on AMNP.
A FULL-CG animated piece that tries to illustrate architecture art across a photographic point of view where main subject are already-built spaces. Sometimes in an abstract way. Sometimes surreal.
Alex simply asks that you view it full-screen, which I would highly recommend as well. Enjoy.
[Image: Z Islander housing compound, Texas]
I really have nothing to say about this, other than the obvious: my ninjas, please. I mean, really?
I was simply going to link to this post over at Lebbeus Woods’ blog, UNDERGROUND BERLIN: the film?treatment, in the sidebar – but I was worried that people might not follow the link without seeing some of his sketches. That, and I really couldn’t help but put some of them up here on AMNP – I mean, they’re pretty dope.
Moving along – Woods recently posted a ‘treatment’ he wrote for a film that would be heavily influenced by architecture, with accompanying sketches. Here is the beginning of his explanation of the project:
UNDERGROUND BERLIN: the film treatment
What follows is a treatment (Hollywood slang for story synopsis) with sketches that I made for a projected film in which new forms of architecture – and the way of living they enable – would play a central role. This followed hard on the heels of my experience as a “conceptual architect” for the big-budget movie Alien3. Working on that project, I realized that set designers have no power over how their designs are used, and certainly no influence on the story or its social or ethical implications. So, I decided to write a screenplay that – contained in a melodrama – would project architecture as a vital instrument of social change.
These are just a few of the images Woods provides, and the others are worth checking out. That, and the bits of story he provides are also quite interesting – describing an architect disillusioned with ‘crass buildings for the corporate state’, a long lost brother and neo-nazi father, and a top-secret laboratory beneath the center of Berlin. Sounds pretty interesting to me…
James D. Griffioen over at Sweet Juniper recently had a post featuring his photographs of what he has termed ‘feral houses’ – homes which, after being abandoned, have ‘reverted to a wild state’. The photographs are at the same time beautiful and haunting – expressing both the ‘death’ of a home, and the enduring quality of nature.
I’ve shared plenty here about feral dogs; I have heard people here use the word “feral” because so many of Detroit’s strays learn to survive long-term on their own. Feral, used in this sense, means they have reverted to a wild state, as from domestication. Our world feral comes from the Latin root fera, or “wild beast,” but it also has a connection to another Latin word, feralis, literally: belonging to the dead.
I’ve seen “feral” used to describe dogs, cats, even goats. But I have wondered if it couldn’t also be used to describe certain houses in Detroit. Abandoned houses are really no big deal here. Some estimate that there are as many as 10,000 abandoned structures at any given time, and that seems conservative. But for a few beautiful months during the summer, some of these houses become “feral” in every sense: they disappear behind ivy or the untended shrubs and trees planted generations ago to decorate their yards. The wood that framed the rooms gets crushed by trees rooted still in the earth. The burnt lime, sand, gravel, and plaster slowly erode into dust, encouraged by ivy spreading tentacles in its endless search for more sunlight.
Like some of the dogs I’ve seen using these houses as shelter (I followed a whole pack into #9 last week), these houses are reverting to a wild state, as from domestication, a word derived itself from domesticus (the Latin for belonging to the domus, or house). Now these houses are feralis. They belong only to the dead.
Interestingly enough, the winner of the ReBurbia Competition proposed returning abandoned suburbs to nature, and converting them into wetlands. While not my favorite entry – only because I wanted to see crazy concepts for the future of abandoned suburbs, not rational solutions, to be honest – this idea of leaving our abandoned developments to be overtaken by the natural environment is incredibly powerful.
Typical homes in the US aren’t built of heavy stone and/or other materials that will endure. Instead, they are built with materials that will succumb to encroaching plant life – much sooner than we’d like to admit, I’m willing to bet. Sure, these homes haven’t only been empty for a year or two – but they won’t be surviving as fascinating relics in the wilderness, like Angkor or other ancient sites. The suburbs -representing major achievements [whether you like them or not] in social, economic, and technological development – will not survive as artifacts. They will be consumed – which is pretty ironic, if you ask me.
For many more photographs of abandoned housing in Detroit, head on over to Sweet Juniper. Really, you just need to be checking out all of this ninja James’ work – as a lot of it is just too too sick. Enjoy.