Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On the appreciation of arts

Tintoretto. The Annunciation. From http://www.artunframed.com/
Any architect knows how difficult it is when we like a particular style and our clients want something different. I learnt to respect opinions on aesthetic, and carefully explain to them if something was wrong, from a professional point of view. I came upon with some nice words, from my book ¨Arguing about Art¨, in the article of Allen Carlson, page 155. They made me reflect there are different ways to consider buildings.
¨With art objects there is a straightforward sense in which we know both what and how to aesthetically appreciate. We know what to appreciate in that, first, we can distinguish a work and its parts from that which is not it nor a part of it. And, second, we can distinguish its aesthetically relevant aspects from its aspects without such relevance. We know that we are to appreciate the sound of the piano in the concert hail and not the coughing which interrupts it; we know that we are to appreciate that a painting is graceful, but not that it happens to hang in the Louvre. In a similar vein, we know how to appreciate in what ¨acts of aspection¨ to perform in regard to different works. Ziff says:
Hell. Hieronymus Bosch. From http://mapscroll.blogspot.com/
...to contemplate a painting is to perform one act of aspection; to scan it is to perform another; to study, observe, survey, inspect, examine, scrutinise, etc., are still other acts of aspection.
....I survey a Tintoretto, while I scan an H. Bosch. Thus I step back to look at the Tintoretto, up to look a the Bosch. Differente actions are involved. Do you drink brandy in the way you drink beer?
It is clear that we have such knowledge of what and how to aesthetically appreciate.¨

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tea houses in Silicon Valley. By Swatt-Miers archs.

A couple of months ago, I posted about huts, tea houses and environment. But always thinking on tradition. Here is the link for this post:
Now, I´ve come up with an article in Architectural Record Construction that explains the idea for 3 modern tea houses in Silicon Valley. Here, the its reproduction, with some pictures from the same site:

The idea for the tea houses originated years ago, when the owner and his young daughter explored the remote hills surrounding their Silicon Valley home and discovered an idyllic setting below a ridge, under a grove of large California Live Oak trees. At first, the family thought the setting would be perfect for a tree house. Years later, after the 6.000-square-foot main house was extensively remodeled, the vision was realized as three individual tea houses—places where one could simply retreat into nature.
Design concept and solution: Each tea house is designed as a transparent steel and glass pavilion, hovering like a lantern over the natural landscape. Cast-in-place concrete core elements anchor the pavilions, supporting steel channel rim joists, which cantilever beyond the cores to support the floor and roof planes. With its minimal footprint, the design treads lightly on the land, minimizing grading and preserving the delicate root systems of the native oaks.
The three tea houses vary in size, each with its own unique purpose. The 270-square-foot ‘meditation’ tea house, nestled under the canopy of the largest oak tree, is a place for individual contemplation. The slightly larger ‘sleeping’ tea house, approximately 372 square feet, is a place designed for overnight stays. This structure is joined by a sky-lit bathroom core, which bridges to the largest tea house. At 492 square feet, the ‘visioning’ tea house is for intimate gatherings and creative thinking. The notion of ‘quiet simplicity’ is a consistent theme throughout – there are no phones, televisions or audio systems within these structures.
The design emphasizes sustainability. Steel framed doors and awning windows provide access and ventilation, while custom-modified aluminum sliding doors with custom steel interlockers and fixed glass panels, mitered at the corners, dissolve the barrier between inside and outside. Natural cooling is enhanced by shading from strategically placed landscaping, including evergreen redwood trees and bamboo, and deciduous maple and gingko trees. Heating is provided by a radiant hydronic system below the flooring. Electricity is produced on-site by a photovoltaic array mounted on the roof of the main house.
The interiors are executed with a simple palette of contrasting materials—crisply detailed steel and glass, and more ‘organic’ unfinished concrete, board formed and wire brushed to expose the wood grain, as well as cedar boards, recycled from the remodeling of the main house.
As the sunlight and shadows move across the hillside the tea houses take on different forms—at sunrise, the structures disappear into the long shadows; the soft silhouette of the midday sun casts dramatic reflections off the glass; and by evening, the structures glow like lanterns in a garden. Viewed from afar or viewed from within, the tea houses appear at one with their sites, inextricably connected to the native California landscape.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Venecia inaugura su 12.ª Bienal

ORIENTE. Atelier Bow-Wow + Tokyo Institute Of Technology Tsukamoto Lab. Nora House Sendai, Japón.
People meet in Architecture. La gente se encuentra en la arquitectura. Bajo este lema, Venecia inauguró ayer su duodécima Bienal de Arquitectura, que tiene por comisaria a la japonesa Kazuyo Sejima. No es por tanto de extrañar que la segunda instalación de la gran exposición de este certamen sea un filme del alemán Wim Wenders, de 12 minutos de duración, que nos propone un recorrido por el nuevo edificio del Politécnico de Lausana, obra precisamente de Sanaa, el estudio de Sejima/Nishizawa. Esto podría interpretarse como una indecorosa autocita. Pero cabe también una interpretación más amable, paradigmática. Porque el mencionado edificio del equipo japonés, inaugurado hace unos pocos meses para reunir las bibliotecas de la citada universidad suiza, es una estructura de hormigón ondulante que parece conducir a cualquiera de sus usuarios al encuentro con sus congéneres: un singular y afortunado ejemplo de edificio continuo hecho para la interrelación y la convivencia.
Ahora bien, la mayoría de los equipos invitados a Venecia han interpretado el lema de la convocatoria a su manera, de un modo menos textual. Siguen algunos ejemplos (no todos) de lo que depara esta muestra.
'La" instalación. El artista danés Olafur Eliasson firma la instalación más poderosa de este recorrido. En una sala oscura –se corre el peligro de encontrarse con otra gente, sin querer, de un topetazo–, y entre ocho robustas columnas de ladrillo visto rematadas por capitel dórico, cuelgan tres mangueras descontroladas, de las que mana un flujo de agua progresivamente atomizado. Unos focos estroboscópicos congelan las imágenes del líquido que se precipita, logrando estampas de gran plasticidad. Eliasson explica que esa sucesión de imágenes encadenadas, pero separadas, es una alusión a la relación entre el pasado y el presente.
Lo más poético. Más poética, pero no por ello menos efectiva, es la instalación de los ingenieros de Transsolar y del equipo de arquitectos de Tetsuo Kondo, una asociación germano-japonesa que rinde homenaje a las nubes, por su labor como decorado celestial, filtro de rayos solares y proveedor de lluvia. Normalmente, las nubes no son obra de arquitecto, ni lugar de encuentro. Pero los autores de este Cloudscapes han dispuesto una ligera pasarela de hierro, en doble espiral, que permite pasear por el aire y contemplar una nube artificial desde abajo, desde dentro y desde encima, junto a otras personas.
Lo más trabajado. Los arquitectos indios de Studio Mumbai presentan una de las más –si no la más– trabajadas aportaciones del certamen. Aquí el punto de encuentro entre la gente abarca muchas generaciones. Basándose en las técnicas constructivas tradicionales y en un estilo propio enraizado en el Movimiento Moderno, Studio Mumbai despliega una amplísima colección de maquetas propias, de herramientas, piezas y materiales de sobrios y bellísimos colores que consiguen recrear todo un mundo constructivo. La arquitectura no es aquí espacio para la reunión en un lugar, sino en un contínuum temporal en el que los vivos nutren su aportación presente, innovadora, con un viejo acervo cultural.
Lo más sonoro. La artista canadiense Janet Cardiff lleva la idea del encuentro –que no de la arquitectura– a la dimensión sonora, al disponer sobre un perímetro oval cuarenta altavoces enfrentados, cada uno de los cuales emite el sonido de una de las cuarenta voces de un coro, que interpreta una cantata renacentista de Thomas Tallis. Uno se sienta en el centro de este dispositivo acústico y puede experimentar de inmediato lo que es un encuentro sonoro tan vigoroso como bien temperado.
Lo más operístico. También musical, pero esta vez sin sonido, es la propuesta del arquitecto Toyo Ito, afincado en Tokio. Aunque no sea lo más abundante en esta muestra, aquí se nos presenta un proyecto estrictamente arquitectónico. Concretamente, el de la Taichung Metropolitan Opera House, actualmente en construcción, proyecto similar al que ya propuso sin éxito para una sala de conciertos de Gante en el 2004, cuya estructura es como una concatenación de gigantescos galets de hormigón. Algo parecido a una enorme esponja en la que los agujeros fueran mucho más grandes que las partes blandas.
Lo más ligero. Esto es, la estructura de los arquitectos de Amateurs Studio (Hangzhou, China), que con unos cientos de listones, sujetos con simples piezas metálicas, sostienen en el aire una construcción cuyas formas recuerdan a las cúpulas de tantas iglesias, pero con una ligereza muy superior. La arquitectura es aquí un punto de encuentro entre Oriente y Occidente.
Lo mínimo. Sin duda, la casi invisible estructura del arquitecto japonés Junya Ishigami: 24 columnas, dispuestas como en un templo griego, de planta rectangular (14 por 4 metros), pero extremadamente delgadas, de pocos milímetros de grosor, unidas en sus extremos inferior y superior. El colmo del minimalismo. Aquí la gente se encuentra en la arquitectura porque esta, en su inmaterialidad, casi desaparece.
Lo más colosal. El arquitecto madrileño Antón García Abril, único español invitado en los espacios nobles del Arsenal, organiza su intervención alrededor de dos colosales vigas de doble te, cruzadas una sobre otra, en aparente asimetría y equilibro inestable, que rompen la escala del espacio que los alberga (respondiendo, según el autor, a un desafío de la comisaria, Kazuyo Sejima). Esta obra, que viene acompañada de información sobre otros proyectos, se inspira en la Casa Hemeroscopium, el domicilio del autor en Las Rozas.
Otros españoles. Ya fuera de las naves de cordelería y artillería del Arsenal, en sus jardines, concretamente en el espacio ómnibus del Palacio de las Exposiciones, y entre una treintena de propuestas, se cuentan las de otros tres arquitectos españoles. El madrileño Andrés Jaque muestra una especie de nube metálica de la que penden pequeños parasoles, tiburones, flores o chips. Parece una nube plácida. Pero procede de una investigación realizada en un piso de la madrileña calle del Pez, habitado por cuatro jóvenes y decorado con muebles de contenedor. En resumen, un proyecto que intenta convertir una casa cualquiera en una máquina crítica. Por su parte, los también madrileños Cristina Díaz y Efrén García (AMID.cero9) exhiben su Palacio del Cerezo en Flor: una espectacular obra que construyen en el Valle del Jerte; un volumen tirando a amorfo, de 700 metros cuadrados de superficie y revestimiento fractal color cereza, ideado para albergar bailes y fiestas. Las verbenas del siglo XXI ya tienen hogar. A su vez, los arquitectos madrileños José Selgas y Lucía Cano presentan un pequeño laberinto formado por cortinas de plástico transparente rellenadas con restos de materiales y deshechos.
Y además. En el Palacio de las Exposiciones merecen también una visita las propuestas de los portugueses Aires Mateus (cuatro grandes y hermosas superficies blancas, en las que se han excavado o erigido volúmenes arquitectónicos de interior o de exterior); las robustas y expresivas estructuras de madera del suizo Christian Kerez; las maquetas enormes y delicadas preparadas por la oficina de Ryue Nishizawa (en particular la del Teshima Art Museum, ahora en construcción, una especie de gota de agua caída en la cima de la montaña, esencial, con unos óculos por los que se recibe luz cenital y se ve el paisaje); el peculiar homenaje del artista neoyorquino Tom Sachs a Le Corbusier (compara su Ville Savoie, construida alrededor del parking de tres plazas, con un drive-in de McDonalds); o las elucubraciones de Rem Koolhaas (León de Oro de esta Bienal, por el conjunto de su carrera, como Kazuo Shinohara, que ha recibido otro León de Oro) a propósito de proyectos hechos, preservados o destruidos.
Los nacionales. Y, para terminar este apresurado recorrido, una visita a los pabellones nacionales, donde se dan pocas alegrías, debido quizás a la crisis. En el pabellón español, y bajo el título Arquitectura entre límites, se recuperan los proyectos presentados antes del verano al concurso Solar Decatlon Europa, para viviendas alimentadas con energía solar. Japón aborda la transformación de Tokio, mostrandomaquetas dentro de maquetas. Alemania invita a decenas de arquitectos a dibujar sus deseos. Francia recurre a sus estrellas y a enormes audiovisuales para hablar de los problemas de la gran metrópolis. Hungría monta un laberinto con varillas transparentes y lápices. Israel enseña sus kibutz. Y Chequia presenta una estupenda y muy fotogénica instalación construida con incontables listones y tablones de madera... Eso es lo que da de sí el cuerpo central de esta Bienal, que Sejima ha organizado con la intención de "reconsiderar el potencial de la arquitectura en la sociedad contemporánea".
REFERENCIA
Revista de Cultura Eñe. Ambas fotos publicadas en el artículo de revista Eñe.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Call for Papers. ¨Fixed? Architecture, Incompleteness and Change”. UK

The Roland Levinsky Building at the University of Plymouth. Image from http://www.copperconcept.org/referenceshow.asp?rid=824&langid=9
“Fixed? Architecture, Incompleteness and Change”. It is organized by the School of Architecture, Design and Environment, University of Plymouth, UK (Thursday 7 - Friday 8 April 2011)
Are buildings fixed objects? At what point is a work of architecture complete? Architects tend to consider a building as finished, fixed, upon the completion of building works. The unpopulated images of shiny new
buildings in the architectural press are presented as a record of the building as a Œpure¹ art-object at its temporal zenith; the occupation of the building and its subsequent adaptation, alteration, personalization and
appropriation by people is often perceived in terms of decline. ŒFixed?¹ aims to question this view of architecture.
An alternative perspective is that all buildings are incomplete and subject to change over time as the users constantly alter and adapt their surroundings in response to changing cultural and technological conditions.
Architecture is appropriated both intentionally and instinctively. In this way, often beyond the control of the architect, through their lifecycle all architectures become responsive to people and place. In theoretical terms, a work of architecture can therefore be interpreted not only as an ambiguous physical form but also as a shifting, responsive cultural construct.
Thinking about architecture in terms of incompleteness has many possible theoretical roots, for example discourses relating to cultural production, process and the everyday or complexity and transience, but there are also practical precedents within the built environment such as modern vernaculars favelas, shanty towns, retail parks - which are often defined by constant change.
Proposals for both theoretical discussion and case-study based papers are invited that engage with or challenge the theme of incompleteness and change across architecture, design and the built environment. Possible strands include:
- changing, transient and adaptive everyday architectures and modern vernaculars
- the afterlife, use, occupation, adaptation and appropriation of Œfixed¹ designed buildings, spaces and places
- architects responses to the challenge of incompleteness and life-cycle design
Key speakers from a range of practice-based and academic backgrounds include:
Prof. Kingston Heath, University of Oregon
Prof. Hilde Heynen, Katholieke University Leuven, Belgium
Richard Murphy, Richard Murphy Architects, Edinburgh
Dr. Michelangelo Sabatino, University of Houston
Dr. Maiken Umbach, Manchester University
Sarah Wigglesworth, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, London
“Fixed?” is hosted by the Cultural-Theory-Space Group, University of Plymouth. The convenors are Malcolm Miles, Daniel Maudlin, Robert Brown and Adam Cowley-Evans.

Submission deadline for abstracts: November 30th 2010
Notification: December 20th 2010
Please send abstracts of no more than 300-words and a short CV via email to
Lynne Saunders, School of Architecture, Design and Environment, University of Plymouth: L.C.Saunders@plymouth.ac.uk
For further information on registration details, accommodation in Plymouth
etc, please go to: www.plymouth.ac.uk/fixedconference

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cartoons in Park Avenue, NY

A rendering of "White Ghost" by Yoshitomo Nara on Park Avenue. The artist will be at the Park Avenue Armory. Picture by Andrea Rojas, posted at NYTimes on line.
The cutesy yet devilish cartoon characters created by the Japanese neo-Pop artist Yoshitomo Nara will soon be familiar sights on the Upper East Side landscape. On Aug. 29 a pair of whimsical, 12-foot-high fiberglass dogs will stand guard like 21st-century Komainu, those mythical lionlike statues commonly placed at the entrance to Japanese shrines to ward off evil spirits.
Organized by the nonprofit Art Production Fund, which presents art around the city, the outdoor installations — one across from the entrance to the Asia Society at 725 Park Avenue, at 70th Street, and the other at 67th Street and Park Avenue just in front of the Park Avenue Armory — will give New Yorkers a hint of a much larger initiative. The Asia Society is presenting a major retrospective of the artist’s work, “Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool,” from Sept. 9 through Jan. 2. It will be the first time the entire museum will be filled with the work of just one artist and will include more than 100 works — drawings, paintings, sculptures, record album covers and large installations — that span the 50-year-old Mr. Nara’s career.
But before the retrospective opens, the public will have a chance to see him in action. For three hours daily from Aug. 23 through 27, Mr. Nara will stage his version of an artist’s studio inside the cavernous Drill Hall of the Park Avenue Armory. Visitors can watch him and Hideki Toyoshima, his longtime collaborator on installation designs and a founding member of the Japanese design collective “graf,” as they create special structures that resemble an artist’s studio, a stage and a carnival tent. And with the help of assistants from Japan — working as a team with the artists called YNG — the two will make new drawings and a large-scale billboard painting. Both the structures and the artworks will eventually be moved to the Asia Society as part of the retrospective.
And since the museum is hoping for a particularly young audience, it has also teamed up with students from Hunter College, which is nearby, who will help at the armory and blog about the project on the museum’s Web site. The Asia Society is also developing a special iPhone app for the show that will include exhibition highlights; images from the show linked to related music clips; photographs of past installations in various cities; and an English translation of tweets from narabot, the artist’s Twitter name.
REFERENCE
Cartoons Are Invading the Upper East Side. Article by Carol Vogel, for the New York Times.

Art and morality. A reflection by Arnold Toynbee

Great Pyramid of Egypt. Picture from revelationsofthebible.com
¨When we admire aesthetically the marvellous masonry and architecture of the Great Pyramid or the exquisite furniture and jewellery of Tut-ankh-Amen´s tomb, there is a conflict in our hearts between our pride and pleasure in such triumphs of human art and our moral condemnation of the human price at which these triumphs have been bought: the hard labour unjustly imposed on the many to produce the fine flowers of civilisation for the exclusive enjoyment of a few who reap where they have not sown. During these last five or six thousand years, the masters of the civilisations have robbed their slaves of their share in the fruits of society´s corporate labours as cold-bloodedly as we rob our bees of their honey. The moral ugliness of the unjust acts marks the aesthetic beauty of the artistic results.¨
Arnold Toynbee, Civilisation on Trial. P. 26

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Winner and Selected Works from the Cocktail Napkin Sketch Contest

After being deluged with 1,322 cocktail napkins bearing sketches from 352 architects and architecture students, ARCHITECTURAL RECORD’s jury of editors has determined the winner of its first annual Cocktail Napkin Sketch Contest.
The jury picked as “the best in show” a drawing of a gate from a Japanese garden by Truc Dang Manh Nguyen, an architect from Piedmont, California. The winner has practiced for 27 years and recently opened his own office. He prefers sketching to photographing buildings. “It forces the eye to focus and the mind to work,” he says, “and it’s easier to commit a work of architecture to memory through drawing.” Nguyen found the small size of the 5-inch-square cocktail napkin to be challenging, and confesses that this is the first time he actually tried to sketch on a cocktail napkin.
The jury awarded cocktail napkin sketches that reflect the spontaneous act of creativity underlyling this ephemeral art form. While a number of entrants treated the cocktail napkin sketch as an exercise in more time-consuming rendering, the jurors admired the artistry of these exercises and included several runners-up that belong to this category.
In addition to the winner and six runners-up, the RECORD editors selected additional sketches notable for their drawing techniques.
And finally, these entries caught the editors’ eyes for approaching the contest in ways that were either innovative—or out-and-out bizarre
REFERENCE
http://archrecord.construction.com/features/cocktail_napkin_sketch_contest/

Interview to Thomas Heatherwick, the Seed Cathedral´s creator

The Seed Cathedral representing the United Kingdom, has been the most impressive building in the great Expo Shangai. Here, I reproduce an interview by Edward Lifson to Thomas Heatherwick, its creator from Heatherwick Studio, London. Published in metropolismag.com, August 9th 2010. Photos by Edward Lifson:
Tell me about the project brief—what did the British government want from its pavilion?
We were very conscious of the context in which it was going to sit—the world’s largest-ever Expo. But the brief from the government asked for a building that showed that the U.K. is a good place to live and work, has good governance, and is multicultural and diverse and sustainable. So you’re going slightly numb reading that brief, because you know that that’s exactly the same brief that every other designer of every other pavilion has been given. And the British government added,  ‘And get voted one of the top ten pavilions!’ We felt that if we just did a cheesy advert for Britain, with clichés, we would not achieve that goal. The only way we would be noticed is by being slightly oblique.
We argued very strongly to the British government that instead of trying to say everything about Britain, we needed to try to say one thing well. The Expo theme, ‘Better City, Better Life,’ sounds catchy, sounds maybe too cute? But in a way it’s very serious. What’s the future of cities? What more serious question is there? We felt that we must respond to that. And something that the United Kingdom did pioneer is the integration of nature into cities. The world’s greenest city of its size in the world is actually London. The sheer quantity of parks, private gardens, public squares, private squares—and then we found that the world’s first botanical institution was in the U.K. And arguably one of the first public parks in modern times was in Britain.
So how did that idea about green cities lead to this design?
We tried to find something that would symbolize nature in the city as a starting point for the design. And we found that the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew have a project to collect and preserve twenty-five percent of all the world’s plant species. We found that many people knew of this in Britain, but no one had actually seen it. The seeds aren’t there to see! We’re used to thinking that seeds are insignificant. So we felt that there’s a symbolic role that the seed could play, having to do with potential. And so we made one simple move. We trapped sixty thousand seeds in the ends of optical tubes that are seven and half meters long.
 What messages does your pavilion send to the Chinese visitors?
One message is that Britain is more than ‘bobbies’ and Big Ben. It’s a magnet for creative people. Many of the most brilliant have chosen to locate in Britain and London in particular. It’s just amazing what’s there. And so the pavilion is there to reflect that and try to change what people think a pavilion might be.
And we didn’t want a building and then a separate design for the exhibits inside. We set ourselves a task to make the building be the contents and make the contents be the building.
So many of the pavilions here are razzle-dazzle—they wow you. And so many of the towers booming in Chinese cities also flash lights and change colors and so forth. Is your pavilion a statement of resistance to that trend in place-making?
At this Expo, in a sea of stimulation, we thought that calmness would actually be the thing that would refresh you and that you might be the most thirsty for.
Then is your ‘Seed Cathedral’ a place of contemplation in which a Chinese visitor could regain their self and remember who they are, in this society speeding ahead at breakneck speed?
We don’t want to preach or patronize. We wanted a place you could interpret in many ways. You might find it technically interesting, or decorative in some way, or anything else. We give it no obvious interpretation.
We called it the ‘Seed Cathedral.’ I fought for that name. ‘Cathedral’ is not meant to imply any religious connotation. It is to evoke an architectural quality of space which is grand.  Maybe grandiose even.
The great Gothic cathedrals with pointed arches are based on trees leaning together. You take it even farther back—to the seed.
And the daylight coming through the tubes and the seeds is slightly like stained glass. It’s quite nice. I didn’t know that that would happen! But we were deliberately playing with the contrast between grandiosity and insignificance, bundling these things together. In a way, the power of the potential in those sixty thousand seeds is mind-blowingly massive. And you’re standing in the middle of the most bio-diverse point you could possibly stand in, in Shanghai! Everything is there, and yet there’s a kind of absence, it’s totally calm. We have even had people say, ‘Where is it? There’s nothing here!’
Have you been to the U.S. pavilion?
Yes.
What do you think of it?
The U.S. pavilion was clearly a last-minute operation. It was clearly done fast. And I think you can tell that it was done fast.
I know potential Chinese clients have come to you since this pavilion opened, and Her Majesty’s Consul General in Shanghai says Chinese visa applications to theU.K. are up significantly. Did the U.S. miss an opportunity here to show great American design to the seventy million people, mostly Chinese, expected to attend this fair?
I see this as a party—for countries! What’s a party for? It doesn’t have fully defined outcomes. But we know that it’s enriching, breaks routine, and broadens life. It’s an excuse to do something that would otherwise not happen. So I think it’s important that countries take that approach with themselves as well. I think people admire courage. Push forward—don’t be a caricature of your country.
Governments are known for being terrified, and governments are known for being the worst clients. And I feel very proud that scared British government hung in there and did a project that maybe wasn’t the most obvious way to have done it.
In that context—it’s not just that it’s nice to patronize architecture. It’s essential to focus on progress. The public are hungry for the world to keep moving! And culture to keep shifting! Our job as designers is to change people’s perceptions.
You have said, ‘Architecture can make the world a better place.’ How does your Seed Cathedral do that?
I can’t say that. I can’t say that my seed cathedral makes the world a better place. But if someone’s there saying, ‘Mummy, why?’ I’m pleased.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Call for Papers. DMACH 2011 Digital Media and its Applications in Cultural Heritage

Jordan River
Extended Deadline for Paper Submission
September 15, 2010
http://www.csaar-center.org/conference/DMACH2011/ 
Call for Papers
DMACH 2011
Digital Media and its Applications in Cultural Heritage
Organized by
The Center for the Study of Architecture in the Arab Region, Jordan
Al-Turath Foundation, Saudi Arabia
In collaboration with
Queen Rania Institute of Tourism and Heritage, Hashemite University

16-17 March, 2011
Amman -Jordan
 Introduction 
Over the past few years, a remarkable increase has occurred in the use of digital techniques for the documentation, management, and communication of cultural heritage. This has drastically transformed the way we capture, store, process, represent and disseminate information. The techniques employed have evolved from standard surveying and CAD tools and/or traditional photogrammetry into laser scanning virtual reality and fully automated video-based techniques. However, it is often argued that digital media tend to create and compile value-free content and thus are inefficient in capturing and communicating cultural and symbolic meanings. Digital media, as any other medium, tend to amplify or reduce the cultural phenomena as a result of their constraints and limitations. Thus the issue of using digital media for cultural heritage is by no means a simple one and must be examined from different angles. The aim of DMACH2011 is to explore the opportunities and challenges of using 
digital media in the research, preservation, management, interpretation, and representation of cultural heritage. Of particular interest for this year conference are issues related to interactive virtual reality, intelligent and wireless hand-held devices, high speed multi-media, and making virtual reality and augmented reality user-friendly and available resources for the general public.
Building on the successful DMACH 2008 international conference held in Amman, Jordan in 2008 and in order to explore and map the challenges and opportunities of using digital media in cultural heritage, The Center for the Study of Architecture in the Arab Region (CSAAR), Al-Turath Foundation, and Queen Rania Institute of Tourism and Heritage have joined together to organize the second edition of the International Conference on Digital Media and its Applications in Cultural Heritage (DMACH 2011). This conference provides a forum to examine and discuss current practices and future directions in the documentation, representation, and communication of cultural heritage using digital technologies. The conference aims to provide the participants an occasion to share and exchange experiences and research findings, to stimulate more ideas and useful insights regarding the uses of digital media in cultural heritage, and to debate their views on future research and developments.

Topics of Interest
We invite scholars and practitioners in architecture, planning, archaeology, and related fields, as well as administrators of museums, galleries, and archives, to submit papers on any topic related to conference theme. Papers may reflect on a wide spectrum of issues related to digital heritage. The conference is structured around a number of sub-themes that include -but are not limited to:
Virtual realty applications in conservation research and practice
Internet-based applications
E-libraries and e-learning in cultural heritage
Intelligent description of cultural heritage content
Interactive, virtual and augmented environments
wireless hand-held devices
Knowledge systems for heritage management
GIS and spatial information management in cultural heritage
Photogrammetry, laser scanning and scene modeling
Virtual Heritage
Virtual Museums
Data acquisition technologies
3D data capture and processing in cultural heritage
Digital reconstructions and 3D modeling
Reproduction techniques and rapid prototyping in cultural heritage
Multimedia, data management and archiving
Rendering techniques for cultural heritage: photorealistic and non-photorealistic
Innovative graphics applications and techniques
Digital media and commodification of cultural heritage
Authenticity and integrity of data/content
The economics of cultural informatics
Usability and interface design for cultural heritage applications
Methods of and issues related to accessibility and interoperability

Important Dates
Full paper submission for review: September 15, 2010
Notification of acceptance: October 30, 2010
Deadline for final papers: December 15, 2010

Submission and Relevant Information
Abstract submission must be in English with a length of max. 500 words. Full paper submission could be in either English or Arabic. You are asked to identify the research track for your paper.

Abstracts should be e-mailed to scientific committee co-chairs (dmach11@csaar-center.org). Full paper submissions are required to be done online through the conference 
Website: http://www.csaar-center.org/conference/DMACH2011/openconf/ 
Submissions will be peer reviewed.

Full paper format, submission guidelines, registration, accommodation and further information are available at the conference website: http://www.csaar-center.org/conference/DMACH2011/


For further information about submissions, please contact conference secretariat.

Posters, Panel Discussion & Workshops
The conference also welcomes proposals for:
* Poster papers
* Plenary Session/ Panel Discussion
* Workshops
For more details check conference website. 

Conference Proceedings
All papers accepted for publication will be published inthe conference proceedings, which will be available to delegates at the time of registration. In addition, papers will be published in a volume of CSAAR Transactions on the Built Environment (ISSN 1992-7320). 

Best Paper Award (3 Awards)
The Best Paper Award is presented to the individual(s) judged by a separate awards committee to have written the best paper appearing in DMACH & CSAAR conference proceedings. The Award shall be 300 USD and a certificate. In case there is more than one author for the paper, the award shall be divided equally among all authors and each shall receive a certificate. Judging shall be on the bases of general quality, originality, subject matter, and timeliness.  
Scientific Committee Co-Chairs
Jamal Al-Qawasmi
KFUPM, Saudi Arabia
jamal@csaar-center.org
Yahya Alshawabkeh
Hashemite University, Jordan
yahya.alshawabkeh@hu.edu.jo
Fabio Remondino
Bruno Kessler Foundation - FBK, Italy
remondino@fbk.eu
Conference Secretariat
Sami Kamal
sami@csaar-center.org

Experiencia en Moscú para simular la posible convivencia en Marte

Simulador Mars 500. Foto bajada de La Nación
Siempre me pregunté si la colonización a Marte sería como la ha imaginado Ray Bradbury. Y fundamentalmente, cómo sería la convivencia de los grupos en un nuevo habitat, tal vez aislados de sus familiares o sus entornos conocidos. Convivirán en paz las distintas razas? Para imaginarlo, basta leer el cuento de Ray donde unos pobladores racistas se asombran y desesperan por la migración negra a Marte, que avanzan por las calles para acceder a su cohete ¨como ríos negros¨. Más allá de nuestras elucubraciones, no cabe duda que el aislamiento produciría problemas psicológicos. El programa Mars 500, consiste en aislar 6 voluntarios elegidos entre 3000 postulantes,  en una "cápsula" especialmente construida en Moscú, -en un instituto de la Academia de Ciencias de Rusia., por 17 meses, que sería equivalente al tiempo del viaje a Marte.
Los participantes, han sido capacitados para llevar sus registros de comportamiento social. Y cuál será el alivio psicológico? La realidad virtual. 
Programa Mars 500. Foto bajada de La Nación
¨El sistema Earth of Wellbeing de realidad virtual y tecnología web que diseñó el equipo del LabPsiTec y Labhuman promueve las emociones positivas y regula el estado anímico. "Las condiciones de aislamiento podrían propiciar la aparición de reacciones afectivas disfuncionales y un deterioro del estado de ánimo, así como alteraciones cognitivas, motoras y perceptuales, que podrían influir en el comportamiento individual y la interacción entre los miembros del equipo -sostienen los investigadores-. Ahora bien, esas reacciones pueden tener un impacto negativo en el resultado final de la misión."
El sistema les permite a los voluntarios "escapar" mediante la realidad virtual a la serenidad de un parque en medio de una ciudad o un bosque con un lago. Durante 30 minutos, esos entornos virtuales proporcionan calma, relajación y alegría.
"Pueden salir virtualmente a un ambiente abierto diseñado con procedimientos de inducción emocional. Cuando quieren (....)-, ellos pueden ir a esos ambientes virtuales. La literatura indica que las emociones positivas son un antídoto eficaz para luchar contra la depresión, la tristeza, la rabia y el enfado."
Tendremos que esperar los resultados entonces para hacer proyecciones del futuro habitat de Marte.
REFERENCIA

Aislados en un viaje a Marte simulado. Artículo publicado en la Nación, suplemento Ciencia y Salud. 21 de agosto de 2010.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The controversy about Louis Kahn´s sinagogue´s expansion

Picture from Architectural Record
From the article by C.J. Huges, for Architectural Record:
A plan to enlarge the only surviving synagogue by Louis Kahn has sparked opposition among some preservationists, who call the alterations insensitive.
Completed in 1972, the 20,000-square-foot spruce-and-concrete home of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester, in Chappaqua, New York, was intended to host services and classes for 400 families. But in recent years the congregation had swelled to more than 700 families, meaning it needed more space, says senior rabbi Joshua M. Davidson.
Picture from Architectural Record
To alleviate crowding, the synagogue proposed nearly doubling its size with a 23,000-square-foot U-shaped wing by architect Alexander Gorlin, to contain classrooms, which are currently located in the existing building, and an event space. A groundbreaking occurred in May, and the $12 million project is expected to be finished by next summer.
With three low-slung, single-sloped-roof sections framing a courtyard, the wing is meant to evoke European villages like those in Estonia, where Kahn was born, Davidson says. In fact, many consider the existing synagogue’s eight-sided sanctuary to be inspired by those in Kahn’s native land.
But the most controversial part of the plan is what’s already happened: the demolition of the synagogue’s boxy entryway to make way for a wider, taller version, which took place last week.
For opponents, who include architects and Kahn’s son, Nathaniel, a filmmaker, that effort to make access easier ruins a special aspect of the synagogue and a hallmark of Kahn’s works.
“He purposefully made it hard to enter his buildings, to draw distinctions between where you were and where you were going,” says Bill Whitaker, an architect who has curated the Kahn collection at the University of Pennsylvania for 17 years.
But the synagogue is far from a perfect creation, says New York-based Gorlin, who taught courses about Kahn at Yale’s architecture school for a decade.
The main section, which features an airy sanctuary ringed by classrooms, lacks the types of connecting corridors found in similar houses of worship, like Kahn’s First Unitarian Church in Rochester, says Gorlin.
As a result, people have to cut across the sanctuary to get from one classroom to another, “so you could never have two things going on at the same time,” Gorlin says. Plus, he adds, eight of Kahn’s drawings that were discovered in the synagogue’s attic show Kahn intended an adjacent structure to be built on the site.
Still, despite his criticisms, the sanctuary and classrooms won’t be reconfigured; the wooden walls, however, will be refinished. Nothing else is planned for the interiors, according to Gorlin.
While it may be too late to stop the synagogue expansion, opponents at least want care to be taken with the renovation of the walls, says Nathaniel Kahn, whose 2003 film, My Architect, is about his father.
Still, the loss of the entryway is painful, he says, likening it to lopping off the black-and-white introductory portion of the Wizard of Oz. “It would still be entertaining but robbed of its essential meaning,” Kahn says. “You can’t say that you are respecting the original design while taking away a part of it.”
Read the full article:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Concurso con fotos de vecinos: Imágenes antiguas en la Avenida de Mayo

Foto de Mariana Araujo para La Nación.
"Estas fotos son de la época de mi mamá, así se vestían cuando eran chicos. Ya con eso te digo mi edad", dijo una señora a una de las colaboradoras del Festival de la Luz 2010 que le ofrecía votar por la foto más linda del concurso "Nuestros abuelos inmigrantes".
La señora, que paseaba ayer por la tarde por la Avenida de Mayo casi Perú, estaba parada frente a una foto que, como si se tratara de una prenda que se seca al sol, colgaba de un piolín sujetada con broches en la vereda del Palacio de Gobierno porteño.
Como ésa, otras cerca de 70 fotografías antiguas pendían de ese piolín. La iniciativa, que sorprendió gratamente a los que pasaron ayer entre las 11 y las 16 por esa vereda, fue una de las intervenciones urbanas del Festival de la Luz 2010, organizado por la Fundación Luz Austral y el gobierno porteño, y que mantuvo el tema de la edición de este año "Migraciones. Identidades en tránsito".
Unas mil doscientas personas, que transitaron por allí, miraron las fotos llevadas por vecinos y alumnos de la Escuela Argentina de Fotografía y dejaron su voto. Al finalizar la actividad, luego del debido escrutinio, se asignó el primer premio -un curso de fotografía- a Wanda Heras por la foto de sus bisabuelos que vinieron de Alemania en la época de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. "Me gustó la foto porque se los ve divertidos y que se aman", dijo a LA NACION la propietaria de la foto, en la que se ve a una pareja dentro de una bañera jugando a los dados y tomando vino y Bidú-Cola.
"Vine a la Casa de la Cultura y me sorprendió gratamente encontrar esta iniciativa, de la que no sabía nada, aun cuando soy estudiante de fotografía", dijo Sonia Sanglar, docente jubilada. "Lo bueno es que me llevo el programa y podré participar de otras actividades", concluyó, y se fue sin saber que con su voto ayudó a obtener el segundo premio -una cámara de fotos- al dueño de una imagen tomada en un estudio alemán, en la que se ve a una institutriz con tres niños y dos perros.
"Lo que buscamos con estas intervenciones urbanas es acercar el arte con la gente común que, generalmente, no va a galerías o museos", planteó el coordinador de estas actividades, Mariano Manikis. Otras intervenciones, durante este mes, son las gigantografías exhibidas en las plazas Dorrego, San Martín, y Perú.
El Festival de la Luz seguirá hasta el 30 de septiembre y su programa completo se puede consultar en wwww.encuentrosabiertos.com.ar .
REFERENCIA
Artículo de Silvia Premat para La Nación. Sección Cultura. 18 de agosto 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Enjoying negative emotions

Abkhazia. Picture by Sergei Loiko
Georgian refuges in Abkhazia. Picture by Sergei Loiko.
When I posted the abandoned houses´ pictures, I commented I felt a kind of attraction for them. The same happens to me when I see some pictures of ruins, and this is not that I am not sorry about the situation that caused the ruin. For whoever shares my feelings, here I have some excerpts from the article ¨The paradox of horror¨, by Berys Gaut, published in the book Arguing About Art, edited by Alex Neill and Aaron Ridley.
Ruins of a house. Picture from site.mynet.com
¨One can also enjoy other ¨negative¨ emotions. One can enjoy disgusting stories, and there is a minor genre, poular on college campuses, of ¨disgust¨movies (...)The negative emotion of anger can also be enjoyed: irascible inidivduals sometimes seek out situations in which they will have an opportunity to get angry. Likewise, it is possible to relish a feeling of quite melancholy, dwelling on the sorrows and disappointments of life, and weeping for the sadness of the world.
Phenomena of this sort have been noted by several philosophers in the last decade, and have been seen as key ingredients in the solution of the paradoxes. (....) Two kinds of theories have been advanced to explain how the enjoyment of negative emotions is possible, but neither is entirely satisfactory as it stands. The first is the ¨control thesis¨, develpoed by Marcia Eaton, and refined by John Morreall (...) Morreall holds that one can enjoy negative emotions when one is ¨in control¨ of the situation which produces the emotions, where control is understood in terms of an ability to direct one´s thoughts and actions. (...)
The second, more promising view of how it is possible to enjoy negative emotions has been developed by both Kendall Walton and Alex Neill. They deny that these emotional responses are intrinsically unpleasant. They both speak as if it is a purely contingent matter whether or not people enjoy the emotions themselves. It is not the emotions themselves that are intrinsically unpleasant, they hold, but , rather, it is the objects of the emotions which are unpleasant or disvaluable.¨

Monday, August 16, 2010

A nice story from South Africa

This is a nice story from the blog " In the Trenches". This blog shares the real-life story of community planning and architectural humanitarian work with NextAid in an impoverished and AIDS-affected rural town called Dennilton, in South Africa. Chris Harnish, an Architecture for Humanity Fellow, on sabbatical from Deborah Berke & Partners in New York City, will do a weekly written and photo blog sharing his experiences while living on site for six months with the local partner organization. Posted by Chris Harnish:
There have been neighbors living in my roof since January or so. A family of owls has set up camp in the protected gap between the overhang of the front porch and the main roof. When I mentioned it to Jabu, his first reaction was 'let's get them out of there'. I told him I liked them and he said 'ok, then we will capture them, put them in a cage and make them fat on mice and rats.' When that didn't take he just resigned himself to asking about them regularly. Apparently owls and Zulu culture don't get along very well. 'The owl is a creature of the night' Jabu told me.
With a bit further research I discovered that an owl calling from your roof means there's going to be a death in the house, unless you burn your house down. A friend in Durban knows a woman who has burned her house down twice for fear of the creatures. (Whether I believe the story or not is another matter... .who knows?). I haven't heard the screetching call from my roof. Usually I just hear it when I step outside to brush my teeth at night. One too many steps from the front porch and a loud, spooky screetch gets me shuffling back inside, laughing and cursing a bit.
It's a married couple of owls, and they have just become parents of triplets. The young ones are very well behaved, except when a parent returns in the evenings with food. Then the squeeling and shuffling of feet on the corrugated metal becomes quite the event. My guide book says it takes three months after hatching for an owl to fly. By my calculations the should be airborn in late June. That's gonna be awesome.

New York officials sue Christie's to regain British architect's drawings

Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image from inetours.com
From guardian.co.uk,by Ed Pikington, New York,Thursday 12 August 2010:
At some point in the 1950s a craftsman called Buckley was working on a site in lower Manhattan when he came across a stash of papers dumped in a skip. They were a set of architectural drawings in watercolours of plans for city parks including details of fountains, clocks, terraces and other structures.
What probably caught Buckley's eye was the stately nature of the designs and their elaborate colouring. Recognising their innate value, he took a pile of more than 100 of the drawings home and filed them away for safe keeping.
More than 50 years later they have become the subject of a $1m (£640,000) lawsuit lodged at the New York supreme court. The legal action was brought by the city's authorities against the late craftsman's son, Sam Buckley, and Christie's, the auctioneers through whom he tried to sell the drawings.
They were the work of Jacob Wrey Mould, a British architect who came to New York in 1853 to design a Unitarian church in Fourth Avenue and 20th Street. Though the building has long been pulled down, in its day it was quite a sensation with its striped facade of red and cream stone earning it the nickname Church of the Holy Zebra.
Mould, an irascible man who was not much liked but greatly admired, went on to collaborate with Calvert Vaux, co-designer of Central Park. Together they planned the original buildings of the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, while Mould also had a large hand in Belvedere Castle and the carvings of the Bethesda Terrace, both in Central Park. Later, he was seminal in the creation of other quintessential New York features such as Morningside and Riverside Parks.
Most of the drawings were signed by Mould. They display his love of vibrant colours as a student of the designer and polychrome theorist Owen Jones with whom he designed a room in Buckingham Palace. They include plans for structures that were built, such as Bethesda Fountain, as well as ones that were not – a set of street lamps for Park Avenue, for instance.
Every one was stamped with the badge of the New York Parks Department, for whom Mould worked from 1857 to shortly before his death in 1886.
When Christie's was commissioned by the younger Buckley to sell 86 of the 127 drawings in his late father's possession, the auction house contacted the city authorities for help with valuing the works and to ask whether New York wanted the first chance to buy them.
But the city saw an invaluable historic collection that should never have left its public ownership.
"They are the kind of thing we would never throw away, but for whatever reason they were erroneously discarded or lost," said Gerald Singleton, the lawyer representing the city. "Once we looked at them we realised that the city remains the owner of these drawings."
It has persuaded the New York court to put a preliminary restraining order that prevents Buckley or Christie's from selling any of the drawings.
In return, the city has promised to back off from its legal threats and to attempt to reach a settlement.
"We're confident this will end amicably," Singleton said.
If New York regains the drawings, it has pledged to use them when renovating historic parts of the city.
Lucille Gordon, Mould's biographer, said the documents were also hugely important in the understanding of the architect himself. "He is a piece of our history – his work is scattered all over New York state. Yet so few papers of any kind have been left behind, and any scrap that Mould touched has a value."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

An English man in New York

Simon Doonan, Creative director, Barneys. Photograph: Jason Bell. Interviews by Guy Harrington
Photographs from Jason Bell's series An Englishman in New York will be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery from 24 August until 17 April 2011. His book of the same title, which contains the portraits and interviews, is published by Dewi Lewis on 15 September
"There’s a tremendous sense of freedom living in Manhattan. I remember when we were opening a small Barney’s outpost in Soho; in a cavalier way I told everyone that I would get a Queen Elizabeth II lookalike to come and cut the ribbon. We didn’t have a huge budget and I couldn’t find one so I decided to do it myself. I dressed up with butt pads, crown, sash, gloves, purse and jewels. I braced myself for the catcalls and the insults, and as I exited the lift into the lobby of my building the doorman said, “Mr Doonan, do you want your mail now or when you come back?” I often think what would I be doing if I’d stayed in England? I’m sure I’d still be on the scarf counter at John Lewis where I started. I failed the eleven plus in England and I always thought of myself as really stupid. Nobody knows that here, so I’ve written four books and a column for the New York Observer"

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